108 Comments

The media refuses to layout the direct line from Covid to inflation, apparently because it doesn't indict Joe Biden. Covid created worker shortages, which created supply chain issues, which increased demand, which resulted in higher prices. "Vaccine hesitancy" is keeping Covid alive and spreading, which is keeping worker shortages alive and spreading, which is keeping the supply/demand structure of inflation alive and spreading. Is that really too complicated for reporters to relay to news consumers?

Expand full comment
author

yes, press wants to treat US economy in a silo — it's not connected to covid or the rest of the world

Expand full comment

Well the Post said that…

You guessed it, folks!

U.S. stocks end January on a high note, but still chalk up worst month since March 2020…

Expand full comment

😖

Expand full comment

Really? Is that the only thing that affected inflation? Manufactured labor shortages driven by bad COVID-19 policies had no effect in terms of increasing the labor costs? It wasn’t Covid by itself that created worker shortages. It was policy. Who’s policy? Biden and Democrat policy.

Sending every American with a heartbeat $1200 whether they needed it or not wasn’t inflationary? The condition of creating too many dollars chasing too few goods is not inflationary?

Paying people more money to remain out of work than to return to work is not inflationary?

Who is responsible for that?

Joe Biden is a catastrophe.

Expand full comment

You give the game away with your "Democrat policy" claptrap. Democrat is a proper noun, not an adjective. Trolls use it as a pejorative, one that dates back to McCarthy, then Limbaugh and Faux, and now you. Surprised you can get access to the internet from under your bridge.

Expand full comment
Feb 2, 2022·edited Feb 6, 2022

You're wrong. It's mostly low supply and high demand caused by the pandemic, factors totally out of a president's control. So Trump would have magically fixed it?

You also overlook how big business in the U.S. is making a bloody fortune right now and stock market portfolios did exceedingly well last year. Nor do you mention Biden's successful effort to unclog the ports or the fact that some business are using inflation as a cover to needlessly raise prices.

Expand full comment

What can $1200 buy? And since you feel this way did you return your $1200 saying I don't need it Mr. President.

Expand full comment

This is a great example of messaging by the conservative media and the wealth behind that media. A lot of what we often discuss.

Conservative voices/media send out the simple message that inflation was caused by the Government giving people money. That is all that message is, the Government giving people money is bad. Helping people is bad. Just like taxing wealthy people is bad. Simple messages, easy to digest, and perfect for the narrative that the Government is bad, especially when trying to help "those" people.

Notice there is no context, no points about how a global pandemic effected supply lines, supply and demand issues, people coming out of Covid lover the summer and spending money on products with low supply. No messaging on how the opposite could have been a recession, that would be worse than inflation.

Expand full comment

It’s unreal how much the media want to pretend Trump didn’t actively cause a lot of these problems with his inept handling of the crisis in the beginning and his base’s refusal to get vaccinated. Republicans are directly responsible for this pandemic being prolonged.

Expand full comment

Appears he gets every pass available: mulligan, boys will be boys, don’t take him ‘literally’… incredible.

Expand full comment

Yep. And now they’re trying to amplify him again for re-election.

Expand full comment
Feb 1, 2022·edited Feb 1, 2022

So I guess the the Jan 6 Committee… is not going to be effective, per this forgone conclusion of his ‘eligibility’.

Expand full comment

China’s strict covid policies is a major cause of the reason for supply chain problems, something the media chooses to ignore along with the fact that Europe is also affected. There are also shortages of shipping containers. The slowness of unloading goods at our ports which are not being shipped back at the usual speed.

The media seems to think we would be better off with much lower growth and demand which would have kept inflation from spiking than with robust GDP and job growth. Something tells me the public wouldn’t agree with that if anyone ever bothered to ask them.

Expand full comment

I read a few days ago that here in the US, over 80,000 truck drivers are out sick. So it's not only Chinese shippers but domestic goods being affected by supply issues. Added in is the rough winter we're having - storms have affected supply routes.

Expand full comment

Interesting.

Expand full comment

Appears not to be ‘cool’ to side with Biden :/ Or the US (see: TFG)…

Expand full comment

Exactly. This is the exact problem. They’ve chosen their side and their narrative, and anything that contradicts it is taboo.

Expand full comment

Just heard the head of Biden’s Council of Economic Advisers just said that the the income of Americans in bottom half of the income scale saw their real income go up by 8.5% last year. Bloomberg reports the same:

“ Adjusted for taxes and transfers, income for the bottom half of Americans was 8.5% higher as of December than in the same month of 2019,”. The graph shows that this is real income which means it is also adjusted for inflation.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-01-31/americans-in-all-income-groups-recouped-pandemic-losses-in-2021

Let’s see how much coverage this gets. I am betting on crickets.

Expand full comment

I've read that (some) corporations are taking advantage of the chaos to raise prices to the point of gouging, also contributing to inflation. They have to do something to cover their CEO pay and other income increases, I guess.

Expand full comment

I don't see the media making much mention of price gouging either. Or of immense corporate greed. Jeff Bezos' $475 million yacht is ready to set sail, and he's even paying to have part of a bridge dismantled and then reassembled because his yacht is too large to pass underneath it.

Expand full comment

🤬

Expand full comment

The news industry is about creating story lines. It no longer simply reports the facts and sites verifiable sources of their information. It begs the question of why? Is it because doing this creates more profit. Fear is what motivates people. Scaring readers daily with doom and gloom achieves that result. Or is it because the media, largely owned by billionaires, simply wants to control Washington and who prefer Republican politicians they can easily corrupt. In other words, is the media a branch of the slow moving coup that is sending the US toward autocracy? One thing is true. The media's task, as the Founders had wanted, to inform the public and to keep their representative government on the level is failing miserably. Future historians will not be kind to the media. That's of course if future historians are allowed to tell the truth.

Expand full comment
author

so true. CNN last summer decided economy/inflation was going to be its long-running Biden Doomsday storyline. problem is the data didn't always fit

Expand full comment

I never thought I would quote Agnew but this is an apt description of today’s mainstream “liberal” media:

“In the United States today, we have more than our share of the nattering nabobs of negativism. They have formed their own 4-H Club — the ‘hopeless, hysterical hypochondriacs of history.”

It seemed like an exaggeration at the time but now it looks like it was a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Expand full comment

Love this!

Expand full comment

It was written by then speechwriter William Safire, who went on the become the conservative op ed columnist at the NYT.

Expand full comment

With the exception of Wolf Blitzer, CNN despised Trump. Possibly they have adopted a framework where they will despise whoever is president.

Expand full comment

The blurring line between news and entertainment as well as the largely unregulated social media component has led us here. We have not been vigilant.

Expand full comment

There is a lot of evidence from cognitive psychology research that all of us interpret reality based on mental models/ “frames”/ storylines to understand the world. It is automatic, not conscious, and pervades human thought. Everyone depends on them to understand the world but they are also the source for biases and stereotypes.

For example during the 2008 crash I was struck by how dead set Merkel was to not stimulate their economy no matter how bad it got. From what I read the Germans have a huge aversion to doing that because their economic mental model is dominated by the story about how inflation helped Hitler’s ascent. In ‘08 economists were warning that deflation was the a much bigger, far more than inflation because it is almost impossible to reverse a deflationary spiral. (When people expect prices to go down they stop making big purchases, which further drives down prices.)There is just as much evidence for the threat deflation poses as for the problems of runaway inflation. Americans have a similar fear of inflation because of the mental model formed due to our experience in the 70s. Luckily both Obama and Biden listened to the experts. As a result we had a much stronger economic recovery both from the crash in ‘08 and from covid.

I suspect the fact that inflation has finally surface, confirming so many people’s ingrained mental model is why the media is so obsessed with it. People are very unnerved when their mental models are refuted by reality.

Expand full comment
Jan 31, 2022·edited Jan 31, 2022

Not sure if this is the same exact point, but just saw a documentary abt how the Chinese hesitated on releasing the Covid 19 information because they remembered *all too well* how SARS 2003 hurt their economy - in so many ways. So old and/or new scars come into play it seems :/

Expand full comment
Jan 31, 2022Liked by Eric Boehlert

FYI: You can get a plugin to copy your music playlists from Spotify over to Apple Music.

Expand full comment

Of course the press is reciting Republican talking points about how bad the economy is. The press has made it clear that they are hell bent on kneecapping Joe and they want Trump back in the White House.

Expand full comment
author

its their only way to create Biden era drama

Expand full comment

Shocking but true. The press is hell bent on reinstalling a criminal into the White House. Sometimes I feel like I can't wake up from a horrible nightmare.

Expand full comment

Yep. Biden is too normal and boring, doesn’t generate enough drama for ratings and clicks.

Expand full comment

All of which is why the least important factor in the media today is actually what Fux Noise says. What's most important is that what Fux Noise says shapes what the rest of the media say. And I really wish I was independently wealthy, because then I could retire and dedicate my time exclusively to organizing boycotts. Because all that the media now understand are dollars and clicks.

Expand full comment

A tried and true formula at Fox News before the Former Guy went like this: wingnut outfit or politician makes baseless claim; Fox covers the claim; the claim gets no mention in MSM. Fox then begins an on air campaign demanding to know why the MSM won't cover the claim, and implies the failure to cover is proof there is legitimate substance to the claim, and that it is the MSM's liberal bias that is preventing coverage. The failure of the MSM to cover the claim becomes the story, and the baseless claim itself no longer matters. No better examples than every Project Veritas "expose."

Expand full comment

And that's what Goldwater and Nixon were doing, and it worked much less on the rest of the media then.

Expand full comment

Me too. Something weird is going on with my posts, so I apologize for the double responses.

Expand full comment

It might help if the press actually explained in easy to understand language why someone's $50 supermarket run now costs $80.

Expand full comment

Oh they do. “It’s Biden’s fault.” That’s the message in every story. It’s maddening.

Expand full comment

They did the same to Obama. It’ll only get worse as it gets closer to the midterms.

Expand full comment

Btw, are you getting my substack emails? I just realized today that my substack PANEM posts are going to “promotions” in emails and subscribers aren’t even getting a notification to show they have mail. I’m working on fixing the problem, but I wanted to make sure if it was going to your inbox or not.

Expand full comment
Jan 31, 2022·edited Jan 31, 2022

If there are several reasons, it likely becomes more difficult to report… but it seems an ideal moment to make the current administration ‘look bad’ via price gouging…. The US seems not only to be pro-Covid, but also pro-Gilded Age (weirdly!) https://www.reuters.com/business/us-ceo-to-worker-pay-ratio-rose-2991-last-year-union-2021-07-14/

I have blue collar friends who are absolutely fine w/rising CEO pay and the widening gap. Blame the $1 price hike on a minimum wage increase instead. It’s incredible. https://www.epi.org/publication/ceo-pay-in-2020/

I guess ‘we’ are all still eying that brass ring and begrudging / blaming the little guy. Insane. My point here is that with less competition and more consolidation, it seems easier than ever to join forces and trip up the WH - much like the media has seemingly agreed to do…

Expand full comment

Jeez. But yeah, I’ve encountered people like this too. It’s like they think workers shouldn’t get benefits or a livable wage, and working 2 or 3 jobs is noble and totally normal. Republicans, with the help of the press, really did a number on them.

Expand full comment

They could also explain the opportunism of companies like Amazon. Last night I was looking through the "Buy it Again" section of my account, and I noticed that quite a few items have literally doubled in pricing.

Expand full comment

I do my kitty cat shopping on either Amazon or Chewy and it all depends on the prices.

Expand full comment

Same here, but Amazon's prices are awful and Chewy was out of the felines' favorite food, so I ordered from Walmart. AARP has alerted us old farts that there is a supply issue with cat food. Now that's good journalism, when one reads useful information :)

Expand full comment

The Times reporting on the record GDP numbers last week (where The Times chose to emphasize the supposed continuing discontent on the part of the public) is reminiscent of a 1/2001 "The Onion" headline after W took office: "Our great national nightmare of peace and prosperity is over."

Expand full comment
Jan 31, 2022·edited Jan 31, 2022

How bizarre is it that the press also doesn't want to talk about the effects of the Fed raising interest rates on our booming economy? How long must inflation be occurring before it's too long? I'm not an economist but I'm puzzled that the good is being overshadowed by a fire hose of money that could throw the economy into a recession, yet nobody thinks this is an issue. Instead, they want to talk about Donald Trump and whether their favorite ex-president is going to run again. We're also getting almost no coverage of the trial of the 3 cops who were accessories in the murder of George Floyd. Half-assed "journalism."

One of the worst sins against Biden by the press really is the fact that they habitually ignore that inflation is caused by the pandemic, and it is global. Just last night I read that inflation in Turkey, for example, is over 50% since last year, and that Erdogan fired the economists who released that information.

Expand full comment

The press has repeatedly reported that the Fed is planning to slowly raise rates starting in March. However most serious economists don’t think the primary cause of inflation is the amount of money in the economy but the sudden sharp jump in demand that happened as the economy reopened and the resulting supply chain problems that have resulted in shortages. Economists expect inflation to ease up as those problems resolve but predict it will take months for that to happen.

Expand full comment

So why not just wait instead of raising interest rates and making it harder for people to buy homes, start businesses and borrow money? What tends to happen is recession. We all are grownups and so we understand that prices will not drop, but with recession comes unemployment and economic stagnation. We are not seeing any coverage of the issue of inflation in any clear way, but we are seeing another shit sandwich being cooked up in the kitchen while the media enjoys chewing on Joe Biden.

Expand full comment

Interest rates are very low right now so Powell has room to move them up some without tanking the economy. It is a balancing act. There are years of evidence that moderate rates don’t cause recessions.

Expand full comment

The Times continues with the GOP propaganda!

NYT twists stats to insist we need more policing

https://www.alternet.org/2022/01/defund-the-police/?utm_source=push_notifications

Expand full comment

So the New York Times has bought Wordle!

Who wants to guess that their first puzzle won’t be…TRUMP?

Expand full comment

Sorry to hear about tightening your belt especially at this stage in the game. Stressful for certain.

Expand full comment

Off topic; how about this headline from R. Douhat y’day? ‘Will a Mask Debate Split Blue States?’

Expand full comment

A number of progressive journalists (mostly the ones with kids) are leading the charge to end mask wearing "because it hurts the children." The smug Douthat is taking his cues from the likes of Michelle Goldberg, that firebrand on the left Bari Weiss (yes, that was snark), and of course, Bill Mahr. They are just "so over Covid."

There was an interesting story in the Times yesterday that for people with asthma, diabetes, and a number of other conditions—which amounts to 40 percent of the population—Omicron is anything but "mild." And yet, that's the message we constantly hear from many of these same journalists, including those at the Times: this strain is "mild."

Expand full comment

Kids are not that fragile. I have 4 grandkids ages 12 to 7. They have been wearing masks for months because our schools mandate it. I wasnaround them a lot after I got vaccinated and have been around their friends. Wearing masks is routine. When the kids get off the buss all of them are wearing masks and most don’t even bother taking them off right away. The youngest is very involved in dance classes which require masks. Her brother plays basketball at the Y where everyone is masked. I have never heard any of them complain. It’s obvious that it hasn’t hurt their ability to socialize.

However two of their friends live in the next county which is deep red and has never required masks. Their mom is high risk so they have to wear them which has not been easy because only a minority of kids wear them.

The oldest plays basketball at a community center that doesn’t require masks. He is vaccinated but two weeks ago he got covid from another kid on the team and gave it to the rest of his family. He was really upset. It’s too soon to ease up.

Expand full comment

Kids are resilient. Parents not so much.

Expand full comment

My immediate reaction is to ask how much they have in their bank accounts. Pure privilege. Yuck.

Expand full comment

Wow that’s a reach… good l-rd.

Expand full comment

Douthat. Sorry.

Expand full comment

The media often cherry-picks stories to fit a specific narrative. For example, in all the hysterical reporting about inflation, I haven't seen the national news as why rents in Miami suddenly jumped 40%. I haven't seen stories about the dangerous unchecked monopolistic practices which have allowed companies to 1) ship all manufacturing overseas and focus on just-in-time demand, so supply chain shortages were inevitable, 2) arbitrarily raise prices unconnected to the supply chain, and use the extra revenues for stock buybacks, executive raises, and shareholder dividends, 3) consolidate power in massive cargo ships that caused weeks of anchored cargo vessels stranded in the Port of Long Beach, 4) consolidation of power in a handful of trucking companies whose poor treatment of long-haul truckers during a pandemic caused a massive number of resignations. Inflation is real, but so are the decades of unchecked monopolistic practices that have exacerbated it. Lazy reporting with no context or holistic clarity is a hallmark of lazy reporting.

Expand full comment

My utility bills have doubled. Let’s have a story on ‘why?’

Expand full comment

Mine have increased by about 25% but January has been severely cold here, so I'm not looking forward to my next bill. We were informed via local news last year that this winter we'd see a rate hike. I'm retired, and the older I get, the more I spin my wheels as my rent, utilities and groceries go up more than my COLA.

Expand full comment

Here is one story, it's not complete, but it's a decent overview: https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/11/why-are-energy-prices-so-high.html

Expand full comment

The American mainstream media wants to eat their cake and have it too.

They've somehow decided that a mix of dishonest "doom and gloom" reporting on the economy under the Biden administration,fears of a Republican return to power in Congress if the party wins big in the November midterms because of voter suppression laws, extreme gerrymandering & the filibustering of the Voting Rights Act by them & 2 traitors (Manchin & Sinema), and threat of domestic terrorism by individuals/groups with GOP links is the ONLY way to keep viewers & readers of news doomscrolling on their Twitter feeds, doomlistening on NPR & doomwatching on their televisions or laptops.

Seriously, people were already stressed out with Hair Farce One over the unhinged & bat-sh*t crazy messages coming from his Twitter account, press conferences, impromptu chopper talks, and interviews. Having Biden as president should've served as a necessary breather for the last four years.

However, when ratings & subscriptions went down, the media decided that financial bottomline was more important than mental health & well-being of its readers, viewers, listeners.

Expand full comment
Jan 31, 2022·edited Jan 31, 2022

I understand your point, that the press isn’t fairly attributing the positive GDP and stock market to Biden, but to be honest, everyday people are faced with really high gas prices and really high grocery bills. That’s what people understand to be “the economy”. So while it’s true that things are going well in terms of “the government added a bunch of jobs” and “oh look at the GDP”, that’s not what people think about when they fill up their gas tank. Additionally, don’t dismiss the impact of someone’s raise being wiped out due to inflation. That does hurt. And many people didn’t even get a raise at all.

Expand full comment
author

oh yes, i've mentioned several times inflation is real and nobody likes spending $90 filling up an SUV. my pt has been abt context and the media laser-like focus on inflation vs. other aspects of economy

Expand full comment

However we need to remember that gas prices were usually low last year because so few people were commuting. According to a recent report from AAA which regularly tracks them gas prices have only gone back to pre-pandemic levels:

“ NATIONAL GAS PRICE AVERAGE RISING TO PRE-PANDEMIC LEVELS DESPITE PLUMMETING DEMAND”

https://gasprices.aaa.com/national-gas-price-average-rising-to-pre-pandemic-levels-despite-plummeting-demand/

That is the case with gas prices where I live. They have shot up but from an unnaturally low level.

Expand full comment

But the press has the enormous responsibility of improving the common view that the economy is just the cost of gas and groceries. Highlighting only gas and groceries reverses the educational burden of the press.

Expand full comment
Jan 31, 2022·edited Jan 31, 2022

Almost feels like cherry-picking.

Expand full comment

Yet most people say they are personally doing well. Yes, prices have gone up but the media has given voice to the most hysterical "my grocery billed has doubled!" (No, it hasn't unless they are adding more items to their carts.)

The Times even had the gall to write a piece about how well the economy is doing yet Biden isn't getting any credit. Missing from the story was one vital piece: the media's negative narrative.

Expand full comment

The media believes that all they are doing is holding up a mirror to public opinion despite years of evidence that they are a major influence on it.

Expand full comment
Jan 31, 2022·edited Jan 31, 2022

I think it was Tom Nichols(?) who mentioned getting a text from a friend bemoaning how ‘horrible’ things were going in the US economy… from his comfortable, 2nd (lake) home. Literally mind boggling… Also heard a brief mention abt how TFG’s CONSTANT repetition of (imaginary) grievances/negativity - has been found to EVENTUALLY influence even ‘smart people’ who feel they know better…

Discouraging but good to know :/

Expand full comment

Gaslighting, anyone?

Expand full comment

Someone should remake that movie so that young people understand what the term refers to.

Expand full comment

It’s on Netflix I believe. Love that film.

Expand full comment

My grandkids freak out about black and white movies. I doubt that I could talk them into watching it.

Expand full comment

Not into noir😋?

Expand full comment

*Cute* :/

Expand full comment

Downplaying positive news gives the negative more momentum. Sick of this…

Expand full comment
Jan 31, 2022·edited Jan 31, 2022

Why would you gloss over good news if you are reporting the straightforward facts? See Chomsky: anything on manufactured consent.

Expand full comment
Jan 31, 2022·edited Jan 31, 2022

From one Eric to another,

In your coverage of the American mainstream media's dishonest "doom & gloom" reporting on the economy under the Biden administration, have you also seen how it affects other countries' perception on whether or not the American economy will help in the global economic recovery despite the continuing Covid-19 pandemic?

I ask this question because my father believes the American economy might enter into a bubble based on a Guardian column he read last week:

https://www.theguardian.com/business/nils-pratley-on-finance/2022/jan/24/if-jeremy-grantham-is-talking-about-a-us-superbubble-we-should-listen

The reason why my father likes this article is that he wants the American economy to suffer so China would takeover as biggest player in the global economy.

Despite being born in the Philippines and spending most of his life here, my father has become pro-China because he doesn't like the colonial-era abuses committed by the Western powers against China, and his belief that it shouldn't be criticized by the same Western powers for aggressively flexing its economic, diplomatic and military power.

Anyway, he also believes Western media is biased against the Chinese government because they report on the country's horrible human rights record.

My father's mother came from China, but my siblings and I have to remind him that the Mainland Chinese don't consider people of Chinese descent who live outside the country as Chinese.

Expand full comment