Millions Losing Unemployment Benefits Not A Priority For Broadcast Media

Broadcast evening news programs devoted zero coverage to Senate Republicans' harmful block on extending long-term unemployment benefits. The failed measure received only minimal attention from national media throughout the day.

Senate Failed To Extend Unemployment Benefits

Senate Republicans Block Three-Month Extension Of Unemployment Benefits. On February 6, the Senate voted to advance a bill that would extend recently expired unemployment benefits for three months. The proposal failed after a Republican filibuster, as The New York Times reported:

The Senate failed to move forward on a three-month extension of assistance for the long-term unemployed on Thursday, leaving it unlikely that Congress would approve the measure soon while undercutting a key aspect of President Obama's economic recovery plan.

Fifty-nine senators, including four Republicans, voted to advance the legislation, falling one vote short of the 60 needed to break a Republican filibuster effort. 


“We've given them everything they wanted. Paid for,” said Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, flashing his irritation at Republicans who blocked the bill.

He said Democrats would keep pushing to extend the benefits, which expired at the end of last year, cutting off more than 1.3 million Americans. That number has since grown to more than 1.7 million. [The New York Times2/6/14]

Broadcast Nightly News Ignored The Unemployment Benefits Vote Completely

ABC, CBS, And NBC News Ignored Proposal To Extend Unemployment Entirely. On their February 6 evening broadcasts, neither ABC, CBS, nor NBC mentioned the Senate vote to extend unemployment benefits.

Broadcast News

CNN, Fox Devoted Minimal Coverage To Unemployment Benefits Vote

CNN Gave Unemployment Benefits Vote Less Than Three Minutes Of Coverage. According to a Media Matters analysis, on February 6 CNN devoted five segments to the Senate vote on unemployment benefits, for a total of only 2 minutes and 50 seconds of coverage.   

Fox News Devoted Less Than Five Minutes Of Coverage To Unemployment Benefits Vote. Fox News ran only three segments on the proposal to extend unemployment benefits on February 6, totaling 4 minutes and 22 seconds of coverage according to Media Matters' analysis.

MSNBC Devoted Over 30 Minutes Of Coverage To Unemployment Benefits Vote. MSNBC devoted 12 segments to the Senate vote on unemployment benefits, for a total of 32 minutes and 26 seconds of coverage on February 6.

Cable News

Unemployed Americans Are Increasingly Burdened By Failure To Extend Benefits

CBPP: Failure To Extend Emergency Unemployment Benefits Will Cost Nearly Five Million Workers Their Benefits By The End of 2014. As the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities explained, an estimated 4.9 million workers will lose unemployment benefits by the end of 2014 if Congress does not extend benefits:

CBPP[Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, 12/11/13]

EPI: Congress Has Never Allowed Unemployment Insurance Extensions To Expire With Long-Term Unemployment So High.  As the Economic Policy Institute explained last month:

The share of the workforce that is long-term unemployed is nearly twice as high today as it was in any other period when Congress allowed an extended benefits program to expire.


Allowing extensions to expire when the labor market is still so weak is unprecedented in the context of previous unemployment insurance extensions in downturns prior to the Great Recession.

EPI[Economic Policy Institute, 1/8/14]


Media Matters searched an internal database of transcripts for the terms “unemployment” and “jobless” in the February 6 editions of broadcast nightly news. Transcripts for cable news programs were searched for the same terms from 6 am to 11 pm on February 6.