Unemployment under President Barack Obama is at a 26-year-high. The last time the economy had 9.7 percent or higher unemployment was under President Ronald Reagan. But despite similar periods of rising unemployment, Obama and Reagan received almost exactly opposite treatment from the network news media.
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Under Obama reporters have gone to great lengths to spin rising unemployment by finding “positive trends” in the job losses, even focusing on as few as 25 jobs being “saved” by the economic stimulus package. But when Reagan was president journalists showed unemployed families living out of their cars under a bridge in Texas and quoted Democrats or union leaders’ attacks on the president’s “wicked” and “sadistic” fiscal policies.
ABC’s George Stephanopoulos looked on the bright side for Obama Sept. 4, 2009, telling viewers, “the unemployment rate nears 10 percent, but the numbers aren’t all bad.” Rewind to May 7, 1982, when unemployment hit 9.4 percent – three-tenths of a percentage point lower than it would be in August 2009. That night, NBC found people in Seattle in dire straights.
“The lines for free food at food banks are four times what they were six months ago,” NBC’s Don Oliver told “Nightly News” viewers. Oliver’s report focused on the “new poor” and the emotional effects of unemployment, including suicide and battering.
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