Dan Gainor

Back in 2005, when unemployment never went above 5.3 percent, NBC reporter Tom Costello complained about "an economy just a bit off-key." We're now told America is years away from such a positive employment picture. That's not off key, that's like Yoko Ono trying to sing.

The news media take on the 2005 numbers was, naturally, mostly bad. The broadcast networks focused on job losses in slightly more than half the reports. In one typical story, Jim Acosta of the "CBS Evening News" left his viewers with a compelling image of the 8,700 job cuts at General Motors: "Just three days before Thanksgiving, GM is carving up its work force like a Butterball turkey."

The way the media attacked Bush on unemployment can be summed up in one classic Dan Rather moment from Oct. 8, 2004. The anchor led off his broadcast with the question: "Tonight, where are the jobs?"

Unemployment was at 5.4 percent at the time - about 4 million more jobs than we have in 2011. Now unemployment is allegedly at 9 percent and both liberal and conservative economists consider that number unrealistically low. CNBC explained it well: "While the December drop from 9.4 percent to 9.0 percent might have looked nice on paper, digging through the real numbers shows the actual jobs picture hasn't improved at all."

The latest Gallup poll shows the unemployment rate has spiked up to 10.3 percent, and is not the 9.0 percent being reported by the Obama administration.

To sane, rational Americans, that would mean that the stimulus failed and that we shouldn't repeat our mistakes. Perhaps even try spending less.

Journalists are neither sane, nor rational. When $787 billion failed, they wanted more. CBS's Katie Couric asked if "the economy needs another shot in the arm" and John Yang of NBC told viewers Obama was "facing pressure for a new stimulus package." to solve the problem.

We're at the second anniversary of this disaster and its budget time again. Even the GOP is merely trying to make minor cuts while our budget is close to twice what it was at the end of the Clinton presidency.

It's time we admitted that the only thing that was a bigger failure than the stimulus was the news coverage it generated.


Dan Gainor

Dan Gainor is The Boone Pickens Free Market Fellow and director of the Media Research Center’s Business & Media Institute.