Nate Jackson / June 3, 2021

Media Pulls Heartstrings With Dishonest Unemployment Narrative

CBS relays the sad stories of the supposed victims of Republican “cruelty.”

“Gig workers to lose all unemployment benefits in 20 GOP states,” blared a recent CBS News headline. It includes the panicked quote, “You can’t prepare for it.” That, says one of CBS’s subheaders, is “Cruelty, plain and simple.” The message is clear: Heartless Republicans are going to hurt people, compounding misery and suffering during the coronavirus pandemic.

The real meat of the story is what CBS doesn’t even mention: The government has been subsidizing unemployment by paying many people more not to work than they would earn at a $15/hour job. That extra $300 a week isn’t the only factor in last month’s pathetic jobs report, of course, but it is a big reason many people stay on the sidelines. And numerous Republican governors are saying enough is enough.

CBS reports: “All told, about 1 million gig workers and nontraditional workers who qualified for PUA [Pandemic Unemployment Assistance] will cease to receive benefits in the 20 states that are curtailing the program early. These states have provided a 30-day warning that the benefits are ending, but workers who spoke to CBS MoneyWatch said they believe they will need more time than that to find employment. These workers represent a diverse pool — from freelance writers and musicians to dog walkers, house cleaners and Uber drivers.”

The point of this type of “news” story is to find a sympathetic victim or two, drum up their woes as representative of some larger narrative, and hang it around Republican necks.

It works because it’s compelling to make individual connections. Personal stories are always more relatable than data. Indeed, we certainly do sympathize with the millions of Americans who are still struggling to find work as the economy slowly reopens after COVID. Their stories are often heartbreaking.

But which party advocated lockdowns and persisted in maintaining them far longer than anyone could honestly argue was necessary? Why are these workers unemployed in the first place? And who created a new entitlement for them that would then become “heartless” to remind them is temporary?

The only time CBS uses the word “Democrat” in the article is quoting a tweet from Bernie Sanders about how compassionate his party is: “Democrats in Congress secured life-saving unemployment aid to workers so they wouldn’t have to go back to work for starvation wages or without childcare.” Sanders pleaded with the labor secretary “to ensure Republican Governors do not strip that assistance away.”

See how he tied unemployment benefits to the Democrats’ “living wage” trope? CBS let it slide without mention. The network did, however, immediately quote an activist railing about the “systemic racism” that means Republican actions will be even worse for minorities.

The truth is that the pandemic has seen two recoveries — one Republican and one Democrat. Unemployment remains persistently high in Democrat states, not Republican ones. Yet CBS almost exclusively quoted “victims” and left-wing activists because the Democrats’ Leftmedia super PAC would rather stick to highlighting only the misery supposedly caused by cruel Republican governors.

Is it just us, or is the American Dream so much more than another couple of months of enhanced government checks?

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