Heavy Dose Of Theatrics In Media's 'Inflation Crisis' Coverage
Reprinted with permission from PressRun
Want to see one of the strange ways the media cover the Biden economy?
When the U.S. jobs report was released for the month of October, showing a surging economy adding 531,000 jobs, as well as revised estimates for September and August confirming that an additional 235,000 positions were created, NBC Nightly News did not cover the economic announcement. ABC World News Tonight buried the story, devoting just two sentence to it, and running the story seventh in the lineup that night. Neither network considered 766,000 new jobs to be among the most important developments of that day.
Contrast that to last Wednesday, when news broke that inflation had jumped 6.2 percent last month, fueling concerns about spiraling consumer costs. That evening, both NBC Nightly News and ABC World News Tonight slotted the inflation story as the second most important development of the news cycle.
Was it a coincidence that both ABC and NBC didn't care much about massive job gains under President Joe Biden, but were intently focused on the upsetting inflationary news? It was the latest example of the press being eager to push bad news for Biden, while looking away from signs of economic hope.
The recent inflation data certainly gave the press a green light to lean into coverage that has bordered on the hysterical, which no doubt influences news consumers and foments a self-fullfilling prophecy. The inflation news is troubling, which Biden acknowledged last week. But are the media —goaded on by Republicans — rushing past rational reporting and wallowing in theatrics, as they remain committed to their Biden Doomsday narrative?
Press skeptics can point to news outlets that have spent the last three months ceaselessly creating lists of endless "crises" Biden is facing, and time and again they're been solved or melted away. (Remember the U.S-France diplomatic "crisis"? The Colonial Pipeline "crisis"?) Also, Biden White House "crises" compared to what? The previous pathological liar president who was clearly unstable and spent his final months in office waging war on free and fair elections in this country?
Just recently, the Beltway press went overboard with its Covid coverage and how the pandemic represented a political "nightmare" for Biden and for Democrats. Today, that hyperventilating seems absurd, as the number of U.S. Covid deaths continue to plummet, and the vaccination rate climbs, including among children. Politically, the pandemic won't be a key issue in 2022 because it will likely be a memory.
Today, the inflation coverage seems purposely over the top and lacking key context. For instance, prices at grocery stores are up 5 percent this year, which has produced an avalanche of news coverage. Last year under Trump, grocery prices rose four percent and the media mostly shrugged.
Today's inflation, a global phenomenon, is caused by the pandemic, which warped global supply and demand patterns, creating a mismatch that has driven prices higher. "Too much money is chasing too few goods," is how New York Times columnist and economist Paul Krugman describes it.
Where's all that money coming from? In America, a lot of it is coming from a spike in employee earnings. For leisure and hospitality workers, wages are up 11 percent this year. Traditionally, the end of stagnant wages would be viewed as a good news story, but not under Biden.
Meanwhile, many America families have more cash on hand thanks to extended unemployment benefits, courtesy of Democrats, which were paid out through much of this year. Also thanks to Biden and Democrats, $250 and $300 monthly child tax credits have helped ease economic hurdles this year for millions, but the press routinely ignores that crucial story.
When ABC World News Tonight reported on last week's inflation news, it stressed that rising prices are "costing the average American household about $175 a month." Left out of that report was the fact that for so many families that $175 per-month increase is being covered by the child tax credits they're receiving.
When CNN decided to highlight inflation by reporting on a family that inexplicably buys 12 gallons of milk each week, the story left out all mention of the generous government support the family receives under Biden.
Meanwhile, those family tax credits will likely soon cut childhood poverty in half. And in October, lower-income Americans who receive food stamps saw a 27 percent spike in their government benefits, the largest increase in history, thanks to a new program under Biden. Most of that context has been flushed down the memory hole in recent days, replaced by breathless Biden Doomsday inflation reporting.
That coverage, and the image it creates of the U.S. economy on the verge of the abyss, is divorced from reality. Note that in the two days after the inflation numbers were released on Wednesday, the Dow Jones industrial average was down just 100 points, suggesting investors are far less worried about the state of the economy than are Beltway journalists. The market's still up 2,000 points since June, when the press first started leaning into the excited inflation storyline. (And yes, Fox News went berserk all summer with its inflation coverage.)
Biden has created more jobs in eight months than Trump did in four years, as the unemployment rate continues to shrink and American workers get paid more. There's a lot of economic news, it's not all bad and it's not all about inflation.
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