Networks Rate Felicity Huffman News As More Epic Than New Unemployment Numbers

September 7th, 2019 9:26 AM

On Friday, the Labor Department reported modest job growth. It wasn't earth-shaking news -- especially during Hurricane Dorian wreaks havoc -- but it's news. Unemployment remains near a record low. The Wall Street Journal reported it this way: 

U.S. employment grew only modestly in August, suggesting that a global economic slowdown isn’t driving the U.S. into recession but has dented growth.

The U.S. economy added 130,000 payrolls in August, the Labor Department reported Friday, and has averaged 156,000 new jobs a month over the past three.

On Friday night, only ABC's World News Tonight considered it newsworthy -- giving it 14 seconds more than halfway through the newscast. CBS and NBC skipped it entirely. Anchorman David Muir quickly brushed past it: 



DAVID MUIR: To the economy tonight, American jobs, US  employers adding 130,000 jobs in August , economists describing it as quote modest growth, despite global weakness and the trade war with China. Unemployment remaining unchanged at 3.7 percent.

So what should be considered good news for President Trump -- unemployment remains near a record-low, including for blacks and Hispanics -- is quickly forgotten as the news networks obsessed this week over the White House's crude Sharpie addition to a hurricane-cone prediction. 

In fact, ABC gave more time -- 18 seconds! -- promoting at the show's opening the latest news on actress Felicity Huffman's legal troubles in the college-admissions scandal, including support from her Desperate Housewives co-star Eva Longoria. Prosecutors want Huffman to spend a month in jail. ABC aired a story that lasted almost two minutes. NBC gave it 75 seconds, and CBS came in third at 19 seconds.

ABC promoted eight stories at the top of the show: none of them were unemployment. 

All three evening newscasts eagerly reported another announcement from the federal government: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had a new warning about the dangers of vaping. That was the top story on CBS.

Even the PBS NewsHour -- the non-commercial newscast -- could only muster 27 bored seconds for the unemployment news: 

JUDY WOODRUFF: U.S. Businesses slowed their hiring in August amid global economic weakness and the tariff war with China. The Labor Department reports employers added a net of 130,000 jobs, fewer than expected. That total included 25,000 temporary workers hired for the 2020 U.S. Census. The unemployment rate held steady at 3.7 percent, even as more people started looking for work.

At least Woodruff followed up with a brief on Federal Reserve Bank chairman Jerome Powell "playing down the risk of recession."