Liberal Outlets Downplay Strong Jobs Report, Elevate Coronavirus Fears

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Leave it to the liberal media to take the good news of the February jobs report and try to throw cold water on it as quickly as possible by pounding on coronavirus fears.

MSNBC's Maddow Blog, NBC News, The New York Times and The Washington Post all wrote liberal spin stories on the latest jobs report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The job numbers showed that the economy added a whopping 273,000 nonfarm payroll jobs, smashing expectations. MSNBC's Maddow Blog headlined their March 6 report “Great jobs report doesn't fully reflect coronavirus outbreak,” while NBC News went with, “Ahead of coronavirus impact, economy added 273,000 jobs for February.”

Arguably the most negative coverage came from MSNBC's Maddow Blog, which apparently wanted to find room to dunk on President Donald Trump:

“Trump continues to tell the world that he's overseeing the strongest domestic job growth in American history, which is plainly false. What's more, the White House has not yet offered an explanation for why job growth has slowed since Trump took office.”’

The Times, under “The Takeaway” section of its March 6 report, used the headline, “U.S. Added 273,000 Jobs in February; Unemployment at 3.5%,” but immediately put a dent in the good economic news with its sub-headline: “The report leaves unanswered questions about the potential economic impact of the widening coronavirus outbreak.” [Emphasis added.]

The Times shut down optimism by zeroing readers in on how “the coronavirus outbreak” is “shaking economic confidence.” The Times used that perspective as a springboard to then quip that “the solid showing may not be a harbinger of continued strength.” [Emphasis added.] This is an interesting line from The Times, given that The Post -- which also downplayed the report -- had as its March 6 headline for the story: “The U.S. labor market showed strength in February, adding 273,000 jobs, despite concerns of the coronavirus outbreak.

The Post still decided to distract from the good economic news, writing instead about the coronavirus outbreak: “Over the past few weeks, experts have gone from sanguine to increasingly alarmed about the virus’ threat to global growth, as the outbreak has spread to nearly 90 countries and sickened almost 100,000.”

NBC News was also quick to qualify the numbers by saying the report doesn’t include “virus-related numbers,” before reframing the good economic news to say that “this could be a question of the ‘calm before the storm,’ economists predicted.” [Emphasis added.]

These outlets’ attempts to stoke fears that the economy is not as good as the numbers show ignores an important caveat. Bloomberg News just reported March 5 that “Filings for U.S. unemployment benefits fell last week, underscoring a healthy labor market even as concerns mounted about the impact of the coronavirus on the economy.” [Emphasis added.] Only The Times and The Post bothered to mention the jobless claims/jobless rate statistics in their reporting.

The Times stated: “Jobless claims throughout the United States have remained at rock-bottom levels.” The Post also took a positive angle, noting that “The jobless rate remains near a 50-year low.”

CNBC gave a more balanced approach to the news, stating that although “the report covered the time frame before worries over the disease intensified … Most of the indicators thus far have shown little damage.”

Economy Banking/Finance Business Coverage Capitalism Stock Market Unemployment Wages & Prices Coronavirus Online Media Bloomberg NBC CNBC MSNBC Major Newspapers New York Times Washington Post Steve Benen Donald Trump

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