Good Morning America's Claire Shipman on Thursday tried to disguise a Democratic activist as just a jobless American who would be hurt by Republican failure to extend unemployment benefits. Shipman sympathetically recounted that Edrie Irvine, who she didn't explain spoke at a Nancy Pelosi press conference on Wednesday, "never thought her very livelihood would depend on a political debate in Congress."
A graphic reading "unemployed" appeared onscreen as Irvine complained, "They are talking about tax cuts for the rich and are holding people like me hostage." Who is Ms. Irvine? According to her bio on the leftist Democracy For America web page, she's a "tree-hugging, bleeding-heart, ACLU-card-carrying progressive liberal and damn proud of it!"
On December 1, Irvine appeared with Nancy Pelosi at a press conference. Pelosi enthused, "Thank you very much, Edrie, for your generosity of spirit to share your personal story with us." On October 2, Irvine also appeared at the liberal One Nation rally and spoke. (One Nation was coordinated by the AFL-CIO and the SEIU, among others.) Shouldn't Shipman have mentioned any of this?
Video after the break
At the rally, Irvine attacked Republicans: "Help me, and all the others like me, send a message to all those politicians that use us as a token in their political battles, who scapegoat us, who say we have to pee in a cup. Well I’ll tell you Mr. Hatch, I’ll pee right after you do."
Shipman even showed a clip of Pelosi's press conference, but still failed to inform viewers that Irvine spoke there: "This press conference in Washington drew hundreds of unemployed workers from around the country." Perhaps this shouldn't be surprising. Shipman's husband is Jay Carney, communications director to Vice President Joe Biden.
The ABC journalist made no effort at all at balance. Every talking head featured supported extending unemployment benefits. Another woman, Angel Garland, lobbied, "I'm raising my son. Single mom. I'm thinking to myself, what will I do? You know? Where will I go?"
It apparently didn't occur to Shipman to highlight a small businessman who might have to lay off workers, should the standoff between unemployment and extending the Bush tax cuts go unresolved.
[Thanks to MRC intern Matt Hadro for the video.]
A transcript of the December 2 segment, which aired at 7:04am EST, follows:
ROBIN ROBERTS: And what you and Jon were just referring to, George, you can talk about the gridlock over extending those long-term unemployment benefits. It's hitting families so incredibly hard. Some are going to be cut off today. And Claire Shipman is also in Washington and has much more on that. Good morning, Claire.
CLAIRE SHIPMAN: Good morning, Robin. This is one of the most explosive issues that Congress is arguing over. Democrats say that millions of Americans are going to be affected in the next few weeks. And that not extending those benefits will hurt the economy. Republicans say those extended benefits are just too expensive unless they're paid for. Edrie Irvine never thought her very livelihood would depend on a political debate in Congress.
EDRIE IRVINE (Unemployed): They are talking about tax cuts for the rich and are holding people like me hostage.
SHIPMAN: But she and about two million other unemployed Americans are caught up in a Capitol Hill showdown.
UNIDENTIFIED CONGRESSMAN: Where, I ask, is the moral outrage?
SHIPMAN: And are about to have a profound impact on the economy. The labor department is predicting a sort of benefits loss tsunami. By December 11th, 635,000 unemployed will lose benefits. By Christmas, it will be $1.6 million, without benefits. Almost two million people by the new year. And at the end of January three and a quarter million will be cutoff. This press conference in Washington drew hundreds of unemployed workers from around the country.
NANCY PELOSI: This is something that is not only good for these families. It's the right thing to do, during a downturn in our economy.
SHIPMAN: Most states fund at least 26 weeks of unemployment benefits. But the federal government has been offering an additional 73 weeks of help. Congressional Republicans now argue the cost is too high and that in order to be extended, other budget cuts need to be found. But many economists argue, unemployment benefits actually help the economy because the unemployed have to spend that money immediately.
MARK ZANDI (Chief economist, Moody's Analytics): The emergency funding insurance program puts $5 million to $6 million, into the economy each and every month. So, you tally that over the year, that's $80 billion. That's a lot of money.
SHIPMAN: And a critical safety net, for people like Angel Garland, unemployed for almost a year.
ANGEL GARLAND: I'm raising my son. Single mom. I'm thinking to myself, what will I do? You know? Where will I go?
SHIPMAN: You know, it's estimated over the course of this financial crisis, these federal benefits have kept some three million Americans out of poverty. And by the way, George, retailers are worried, too. The holiday season isn't the time when they want to see less spending power in the economy.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That's right. They're afraid that could damage the potential of the economic recovery.
— Scott Whitlock is a news analyst for the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.