Unemployment Down & Jobs Up: CBS Skips the News and NBC Looks at Downside
At least NBC gave its viewers the basic numbers of the day before trying to discount them. Friday's CBS Evening News didn't utter a syllable about the jobs/unemployment numbers, yet Bob Schieffer's show found time for a second night of coverage of how Bush “authorized leaking classified information” and for a piece on an orphanage in Kenya for elephants -- and that was even before two fluff “Assignment America” segments. ABC's World News Tonight allocated 25 seconds to the unemployment/jobs numbers as anchor Elizabeth Vargas pointed out the 31 consecutive months of job growth. (Transcript of NBC's story follows.)
In the AP's Friday dispatch, “Jobless Rate Down to 4.7 Percent in March,” reporter Jeannine Aversa related more good economic news that NBC chose to avoid: “The employment figures for March come against the backdrop of a rebounding economy. Analysts believe the economy emerged from an end-of-year funk and grew at an annual rate of 4.5 percent or higher in the just ended January-to-March quarter.”
The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video to provide this transcript of the April 7 NBC Nightly News story:
Brian Williams: "Back in this country now, news on the economy. Good news, in fact, on the jobs front. The government reported today 211,000 jobs were added to the nation's payrolls last month. The unemployment rate ticked down a tenth of a point to 4.7 percent. That matches its lowest reading in 4 and a half years time. President Bush used the jobs numbers as a starting point for a new push to try to convince Americans that the economy is, in fact, on a roll. But as NBC News chief financial correspondent Anne Thompson tells us tonight, the economic picture is a bit more complicated."
Anne Thompson: "A full court press today by Bush's economic team [TV screens with administration officials scrolling across] -- 22 scheduled appearances to tout the solid jobs report. An offensive led by the President, proud of the 5.1 million jobs created in the past 31 months."
George W. Bush, at the White House: "These millions of new jobs are evidence of an economic resurgence that is strong, broad, and benefitting all Americans."
Thompson: "But Mr. Bush isn't one of them. A new poll out today shows 59 percent of Americans disapprove of the President's handling of the economy [AP/Ipsos poll, 39 percent approve, numbers on screen]. In an Oval Office meeting with financial broadcast journalists, a frustrated President blamed the negative attitude about the economy on Iraq. 'I think it's the war,' he said. 'I think the war is affecting the, America's attitude about the future.' Economists say it's more than that."
Mark Zandi, MoodysEconomy.com Chief Economist: "If you're in the top half of the distribution of income, you're doing fabulously, your wages are rising. If you're in the bottom half of the distribution, your wages aren't keeping up with inflation, you don't own stocks, your housing has not appreciated in value."
Thompson: "Also dragging down attitudes, rising health care costs and gas prices. The nation has a negative savings rate, and household debt – what we pay for mortgages, cars, and credit cards – is at record levels and could squeeze already strapped family budgets as interest rates continue to rise. But outside of Boston at this computer software company, there is great optimism. Centive's business is up 300 percent over last year, and it's added 45 new workers, more than doubling its payroll."
Michael Torto, Centive President and CEO: "When our clients are selling more, they buy more from us. And we are selling a lot more services in the last two quarters than we did all of last year."
Thompson: "Creating more jobs to keep consumer spending and the economy growing, what the White House says is the ultimate measure of confidence. Anne Thompson, NBC News, Washington."