Last Thursday morning, the headlines on National Public Radio were jubilant. “Jobless Claims Drop To Lowest Level In More Than Four Years,” they crowed. NPR’s anchors repeated the news in their hourly and half-hourly updates. The sudden, seasonally-adjusted drop–from 369,000 to 339,000 new claims–was touted by NPR and the rest of the mainstream media as timely evidence of economic recovery under President Barack Obama.
This week, jobless claims have soared to 388,000–a four-month high. NPR explained, correctly, that both changes were largely the result of the fact that California failed to process all of its jobless claims last week and therefore submitted an incomplete report that was rectified this week. But it did not bother to revisit its cheerleading from the week before, nor did it try to imply broader conclusions about the direction of the economy under Obama. The headline is: “Jobless Claims Take Sharp Jump: Rose By 46,000 Last Week.”
Imagine if there were a conservative equivalent to NPR. The headlines this morning would have been full of dire conclusions of economic decline under Obama. But there is no media outlet that twists the truth to the right as much as NPR and other mainstream outlets twist it to the left. Fox News is muted this morning: its headline is “Jobless Claims Unexpectedly Rise to 388,000,” a nod to the mainstream media narrative–for the last four years–that Obama is improving the economy and that any setbacks, no matter how large, are “unexpected.”
That is the success of mainstream media bias–it has re-framed discussion to the extent that even conservative outlets feel an obligation to report the news in the left’s terms. That is why everyone is discussing the jobless claims as a one- or two-week phenomenon rather than a four-year burden, which is what they have been.