ABC, CBS and NBC did their part Friday night to minimize the negative impact to the Obama campaign from the rise in the unemployment rate from 7.8 to 7.9 percent in October.
ABC anchor Diane Sawyer allocated a piddling 18 seconds to the news as she characterized the 171,000 jobs growth as “beating predictions,” NBC’s Brian Williams stressed how the 171,000 additional jobs number “was better than the experts had expected” and the CBS Evening News focused on one “flourishing” company which has grown this year from 80 to 450 workers.
The entirety of the coverage from Sawyer on the November 2 World News:
And now, we move onto the new jobs report out today, the last one before the presidential election. And it shows 171,000 jobs created last month. Beating predictions. The unemployment rate ticked up to 7.9 percent as more Americans rejoin the search for a job.
She then moved on to reports from the trail which didn’t touch unemployment:
And this, with just four days to go until Americans go to the polls, your voice, your vote. And there in the corner of your screen, our ABC News presidential countdown clock. As ABC’s Jake Tapper tells us tonight, how the President plans to cross the finish line in first place.
The remainder of campaign coverage – nearly all about strategy and the horse race – consumed nearly six minutes, followed by just under two minutes on speculation about what it would take to evacuate a New York aquarium.
From July, with video: “ABC Spikes ‘Dismal’ 1.5% 2nd Quarter GDP, Instead Touts ‘Giant Rally on Wall Street ’”
On the NBC Nightly News, Williams announced:
Now let’s talk about the presidential election, shall we, and for the majority of Americans the most critical issue remains the U.S. economy. The final jobs report before election day came out today. Employers added 171,000 jobs to their payrolls in October. That was better than the experts had expected. Unemployment rate ticked up to 7.9 percent as more people were actively looking for work.
Not surprisingly, with just four days to go, both sides are actively spinning the numbers in their own direction. Peter Alexander with us from the trail in Westchester, Ohio, tonight.
Alexander ran soundbites from Obama and Romney with their competing takes on the state of unemployment and the economy.
CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley uniquely pointed out the 171,000 payroll increase is “generally only enough to keep up with new people entering the work force and not enough to make a dent in unemployment.” Pelley reported:
We got the last unemployment rate today before the election next Tuesday. The unemployment rate ticked up a tenth of a point last month to 7.9 percent because more workers tried to rejoin the job market but didn't find jobs. 171,000 jobs were created in October, but that’s generally only enough to keep up with new people entering the work force and not enough to make a dent in unemployment.
After that cautionary note, however, correspondent Anthony Mason delivered an upbeat story about a booming new business Jason Goldberg founded called Fab.com, which has grown from 80 to 450 workers this year.
Mason touted the firm and overall supposed good news: “Fab.com, which sells everything from art to clothing, is flourishing...Hiring at companies like Fab is improving the job outlook. In addition to the 171,000 jobs added in October, August was revised up 50,000 and September by 34,000. The economy’s now averaged more than 170,000 jobs created over the past three months.”
After an economist noted “we’re adding jobs but adding jobs at a pace that probably means it’s, say, three to six years before we’re a fully employed economy again,” Mason returned to his upbeat tone: “Hurricane Sandy may have disrupted business at Fab.com, but Jason Goldberg still expects to hire 200 more employees next year.”
-- Brent Baker is Vice President for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center. Click here  to follow Brent Baker on Twitter.