ABC News, which previously mocked the loss of 18,000 jobs at Hostess, now has concern for the unemployed, worrying about those who will lose benefits if a deal on the fiscal cliff cannot be found. Reporter Jon Karl on Wednesday's World News fretted, "Without a deal, unemployment compensation will end for more than two million people who've been out of work more than 26 weeks."
Karl highlighted the case of Melinda Vega, worrying about "her $450 a week unemployment check, her lifeline." However, ABC journalists were less concerned about unemployment when it didn't involve possible tax increases. On November 16, 2012, Good Morning America's co-anchors mocked the bankruptcy of Hostess, passing out Twinkies.
Holding a Twinkie, news anchor Josh Elliott joked, "You know, I'm just going to save mine for 12 years when it will still be good." Amy Robach laughed, "A toast to Twinkies." Again, this occurred as 18,000 people were losing their jobs.
On Wednesday, Karl underlined the push to raise taxes: "But today, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said the President is absolutely willing to go off the cliff unless Republicans agree to raise tax rates."
A transcript of the December 5 World News segment, which aired at 6:33pm EST, follows:
DIANE SAWYER: And now, we turn to the news tonight that a lot of ordinary Americans have been put on notice, as we approach that fiscal cliff, just 27 days away. People who are already having trouble finding a job are receiving a letter of warning about something to happen to them if Congress can't make a deal. And ABC's Jonathan Karl has that.
JONATHAN KARL: Melinda Vega has been put on notice. If Congress and the President don't get their act together, her unemployment checks will stop immediately at the end of the year.
MELINDA VEGA (unemployed) : We're dependent on that money to pay our bills.
KARL: She's been without a job for a year. Her $450 a week unemployment check, her lifeline.
VEGA: We won't be able to pay some of our bills and, I mean, you know, as for Christmas and things of that nature, they're probably off the table.
KARL: She's not alone. Without a deal, unemployment compensation will end for more than two million people who've been out of work more than 26 weeks. Many of the unemployed started receiving the news this week from pre-recorded phone calls, like this one in Washington State.
ROBOCALL (EMPLOYMENT SECURITY DEPARTMENT): Emergency unemployment compensation shuts off at the end of December unless Congress votes to extend the program.
KARL: And, of course, going off the so-called fiscal cliff means a tax hike for just about everybody who does have a job. But today, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said the President is absolutely willing to go off the cliff unless Republicans agree to raise tax rates.
TIMOTHY GEITHNER: There's no prospect to an agreement that doesn't involve those rates going up on the top two percent of the wealthiest - remember, it's only two percent.
KARL: And on that, no progress.
REP. ERIC CANTOR: Where are the specifics? Where are the discussions? Nothing is going on.
KARL: There have been no real talks between the White House and Republicans for a week. But late today, Diane, one possible sign of progress, the President and the Speaker of the House spoke via telephone. Neither side would give any details about what was said, but the stock market closed higher today with traders, at least, apparently optimistic that a deal will be reached.