Accuracy in Media

California has had a public relations nightmare for the past few months due to reports of billions of dollars lost from unemployment fraud mismanaged by California’s Employment Development Department. 

On January 28, the California state auditor released a report stating “EDD did not take substantive action to bolster its fraud detection efforts for its (unemployment) program, because it cannot verify the claimants’ identities”. 

California officials played defense to this report and California’s Labor Secretary even went as far to blame the Trump administration, which she said “failed to provide adequate guidance and resources to California to counter fraud schemes”. 

The local paper for the California capital, the Sacramento Bee, ran a “fact check” article to analyze the claim. 

The article acknowledges the state “did receive warnings about the potential for fraud after Congress created a federal program to provide unemployment benefits to self-employed workers on March 27”.

It also acknowledged the California “state auditor Elaine Howle found the federal Labor Department had specifically advised states about how to determine whether an individual was eligible for work in light of the pandemic”. 

Another interesting finding in this fact-check article was the acknowledgment that in May, “the Labor Department sent a 13-page advisory to states saying it strongly recommends states use social security cross-checks to combat potential fraud”. It further explains that “California was one of the 15 states that did not choose to cross-check social security numbers”.

Even with all these findings, the California capital-based media outlet deemed the assertion of blaming the EDD failure on Trump “partially true” due to “changing guidance”. 

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