This week’s Sunday shows focused mostly on the state of the economy – as states begin to relax COVID-19- related restrictions – and the Ahmaud Arbery shooting. White House officials made some dire predictions about the unemployment rate, which has risen considerably amid shutdown orders designed to combat the spread of the virus. The Ahmaud Arbery case was in the news, with at least one prominent progressive using the shooting to attack President Donald Trump.
The Rising Unemployment Rate
White House adviser Kevin Hassett made an appearance on CNN’s State of the Union, in which he indicated that the unemployment rate could reach 20% in May. “I think just looking at the flow of initial claims, it looks like we’re probably going to get close to 20 percent in the next report,” he said.
Hassett repeated his prediction on CBS News’ Face the Nation. He stated that the low point could rise to 20% around May or June. But he did give a caveat, explaining that the numbers depend on whether the Coronavirus, “has really abated,” and if the economy is “really going again.”
The economist continued, “I would guess middle of summer is when we’re going to start to go into the transition phase.” He also said that he hoped the U.S. would see “very strong” growth in the third and fourth quarters. The unemployment rate rose from 4.4% in March to 14.7% in April, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, with 20.5 million jobs lost.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin also weighed in on unemployment and the reopening of the U.S. economy. In an appearance on Fox News Sunday, Mnuchin stressed that restarting commerce had to be done in a “thoughtful way.” He also warned that refusing to lift restrictions could result in “permanent economic damage.”
Health experts have indicated that reopening the economy could lead to a resurgence of COVID-19 cases and deaths, which could require states to shut down commerce again – causing more harm to the economy. However, Mnuchin pointed out that keeping the current mitigation measures in place is also a significant risk.
“I think there’s a considerable risk of not reopening. You’re talking about what would be permanent economic damage to the American public,” Mnuchin said. “We’re going to reopen in a very thoughtful way that gets people back to work safely, that has them social distance.”
Over the past few weeks, politicians and pundits have been locked in a debate over how to get America back to work, while the number of COVID-19 cases decreases in some areas. Mnuchin tied the rise in unemployment to the shutdown measures. “These are not large numbers because the economy isn’t doing well, he said, “these are large numbers because we’ve shut down the economy.” He also admitted that “the reported numbers are probably going to get worse before they get better” but predicated stronger third and fourth quarters and added that “next year is going to be a great year.”
One of the most notable excursions on this week’s Sunday line-up was on NBC’s Meet the Press, where host Chuck Todd presented an edited clip of AG Bill Barr with the intention of misleading the audience over the Michael Flynn case. The segment showed the first part of Barr’s answer to a question and not the remainder. The team then dutifully based a whole conversation on AG’s motivations. When called- out on this selective editing, the official Twitter account posted a semi-apology:
“Earlier today, we inadvertently and inaccurately cut short a video clip of an interview with AG Barr before offering commentary and analysis. The remaining clip included important remarks from the attorney general that we missed, and we regret the error.”
You can read about the whole escapade in detail here on Liberty Nation.
Progressives Turn Ahmaud Arbery Shooting Into Anti-Trump Attack
The shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old black Georgia resident, gained nationwide attention when a video surfaced, showing Gregory McMichael and his son, Travis McMichael, in an altercation with the young man. In the video, viewers can see the young man grabbing the shotgun Travis was wielding. The younger McMichael shot Arbery three times, killing him.
The police report describes how the two men chased the young man after seeing him run by their house. The McMichaels suspected Arbery of having committed a series of burglaries in the area. They told police that they had pursued Arbery in a white truck with another man following in his car. The men attempted to cut him off as he ran away, and the pursuit continued until it reached the point shown in the video.
The tragedy elicited no small amount of outrage from Americans on both sides of the political spectrum, mainly because the two men were not arrested until last Thursday – two months after the incident. The original prosecutor in the case has been accused of intervening to prevent law enforcement from arresting the two men.
In an appearance on State of the Union, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms (D) leveled blame for the attack at the Trump administration. She indicated that the president’s rhetoric somehow gave “permission” to people who are “prone to being a racist.”
The mayor said: “The rhetoric that we hear coming out of the White House in many ways, I think many who are prone to being racist are given permission to do it in an overt way in a way we wouldn’t [otherwise] see in 2020.”
The mayor also claimed that the Justice Department should get involved in the case if local authorities fail to “make sure people are appropriately prosecuted.”
She continued, pointing out that “had we not seen that video, I don’t think they would be charged. It’s heartbreaking. It’s 2020, and this was a lynching of an African American man.”
Read more from Jeff Charles.