CNN’s Tami Luhby Misleads About the Effect of COVID Funds on Unemployment 

  • Luhby’s main CNN website headline lies, suggests there is NO evidence the $300 bonus in COVID relief dissuades people from returning to work 
  • She uses outdated sources from the height of the pandemic in 2020, as well as fails to cite sources. She provides only one source to back up her claim. 
  • Uses weasel words to confuse readers about the nature of COVID benefits. They are not the same as unemployment. 

OUR RATING = Sloppy and Error-Filled. Your typical Friday night at Fox News, sloppy work.

Indicted Outlet: CNN | Tami Luhby | Link | Archive 

Even when they are pretending to be impartial, CNN continually smears the truth with their biased lies and deceptions. In this particular article, CNN reporter Tammy Luhby alters the truth about COVID relief packages — particularly the $300 bonus — suggesting that there is no positive evidence that increased federal aid dissuades people from pursuing employment.

Major Violations

  • Lying Headline
  • Bad sources 
  • Weasel words 

Luhby’s first sleight of hand appears in a duplicitous headline. On the CNN website her headline reads as follows: 

“Are unemployment benefits causing a worker shortage? No one knows for sure.” 

Here is a photo of the headline on the main cite: 

When you click into the article, however, the headline shifts to: 

“Are Unemployment Benefits Causing Working Shortages? Here’s what we know” 

The difference between the two is rather significant and reveals deception and bias. The first headline is obviously more clickbaity and offers an actual thesis: that no one knows for sure. The second headline backs off this certainty, perhaps because Luhby realized that her evidence does not effectively support that conclusion. 

The effect, though, is that people just skimming headlines (41% of newsreaders [1]) will come away from CNN’s webpage believing that there is no certain evidence that increasing relief packages dissuade job-seeking. The whole set up is obviously duplicitous and deceptive on the part of CNN, meant to fit a narrative.

Luhby’s second major infraction is her failure to provide good sources. She uses only three sources to support her theory that the relief package does not dissuade people from going back to work, and two are from March of 2020 — not exactly timely to the current situation. Further, she fails to provide the link to the ONE current source that supports her thesis. I found that for you here: [2]. This is one piece of compelling evidence, however, it is also only ONE study of only 40 economists from liberal elite universities, mostly Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Stanford. In her article, Luhby says: 

About half of economists say they are uncertain whether the supplement is a major disincentive for lower-wage workers, according to a survey published last week by the Initiative on Global Markets at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. Some 28% believe that it is, while 16% feel it is not.” 

She couches it as if half of ALL economists are uncertain. This, of course, is not true. She ignores that the most common response, by nearly 2:1, is in opposition to her thesis: that the benefits do cause a disincentive.

Luhby also ignores all evidence to the contrary, primarily which is the unemployment rates of states who have dropped some part of the relief package in the last months. For example, South Carolina, which cut off all supplemental, extended federal benefits in June, finally reached pre-COVID employment levels as of the end of May [3]. If South Carolina—- historically with the fourth lowest labor participation rate in America [4]— can do it, then so can the rest of the states. 

Another study says that every 10% increase in federal relief reflects a 3.6% decline in job applications. [5]

Sure, there are other factors at work here, as Luhby dutifully mentions, but overall it seems apparent that when you take away free money… people have to work. The reality is that job openings are up 34% nationally. [6] Businesses want to hire. And, with vaccines available to everyone — and many to spare [7] — applicants filling those jobs is exactly what American businesses needs. 

If there’s no disincentive to work, then why are so many businesses expressing frustration at being able to hire anyone? Why is their a labor shortage when unemployment claims are high? CNN doesn’t even bother to pose a competing thesis. 

Finally, Luhby does something extremely immoral: She uses inaccurate words to flare up the COVID frenzy. In her headline, she describes COVID relief as simply “unemployment benefits.” She uses the same phrasing in the lead. Only when you get to the second paragraph do you realize that she is specifically talking about COVID relief. 

A glance at the headline might suggest that Americans are at risk of losing their UNEMPLOYMENT as a WHOLE. Luhby’s sleight of hand creates needless anxiety among the unemployed, and the entire article overlooks the fact that, even minus the COVID-stimulus, Americans still receive on average $370 per week in federal aid. [8] The whole reason for COVID bonus relief was because people COULDN’T go out to work because of the state shutdowns due to COVID. 

Now, however, that threat has passed. The COVID crisis has bankrupted state unemployment funds, and the debt from that government expense is further compounded by clearly incentivizing workers who could work to stay out of the workforce. The impact of that is logically to further reduce the unemployment funds, but also to reduce business which also has the effect of reducing tax revenues. 

The fiscal impact from COVID is a major story that has been very poorly reported. When reporters like Luhby can’t accurately report the present, it gives CNN readers no confidence that they can accurately report elsewhere. 

Negligent and deceptive reporters like Luhby are impeding American economic recovery by spreading lies to suit a left-wing narrative. 

OUR RATING = Sloppy and Error-Filled. Your typical Friday night at Fox News, sloppy work.


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