When MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough praised NBC for laying off employees, who was he channeling? In his morning comment, he said: “When I first walked into MSNBC eight years ago, I saw thousands of people sitting around doing nothing, and I looked and I said, what are all these people doing?”
I was stunned when I heard him make that statement when you consider that the unemployment rate has remained stubbornly above 8 percent. That was high for three long years. The situation is worse among African-Americans, who are more prone than any other group to lose their jobs or not likely to get hired soon after losing one. The latest Labor Department data for April shows unemployment rate for Blacks fell about 3 percent to 13 percent from 16 percent three years ago.
It makes for grim reading and is worse when you consider many of these people are young, and they are wasting their lives away. So these are not just statistics. They are real human beings with wants and families of their own.
So, how convenient is it that MSNBC should add more to the number of the unemployed in this country while at the same time sending out reporters to cover a story about unemployment going up, only this time the cable network’s high-profile mouthpiece is trying to blame others for not doing enough to create jobs.
It reminds me of a year ago when General Electric, NBC’s parent company at the time, was reported to have somewhat gamed the system by paying a negligible amount of taxes—instead of paying its share. It raises serious ethical questions about these media companies and the journalists who work for them. Those ethical problems could be avoided if we in the media, and NBC/MSNBC in particular, didn’t hold ourselves to be the paragon of virtue. It lowers public trust in the media. Joe should have taken back his unfortunate comment.