As 2021 winds down I’m offering a year-end discount for those looking to subscribe and to support fearless media criticism, as well as independent voices.
So much for the empty shelves and delayed packages this shopping season.
After months of the media insisting consumers were terrified about the rising inflation rate, and that stores would be barren this season thanks to supply chain woes, shoppers snatched up everything in sight, sending holiday sales soaring to a 17-year high. Clothing sales jumped 47% compared to 2019 (pre-Covid), jewelry 32%, electronics 16%.
That runaway spending meant consumers had no problem finding products, despite months of dire media warnings and claims that it all meant terrible news for the White House.
Alternately hyped as a “problem,’ a “Christmas crisis,” and even a looming “nightmare” for President Joe Biden, the holiday season supply chain issue took on Herculean importance for the political press corps, which until this year had never cared about the global trade issue.
At an October White House press briefing, CBS’s Ed O’Keefe actually demanded to know if the White House would guarantee that every holiday package would arrive on time this year.
Itching to maintain the Dems in Disarray narrative, egged on by Fox News, and stretching common sense to the breaking point, the press claimed the president faced a debacle over something he does not control. When none of the doomsday predictions came to pass though, most of the press moved on, instantly losing interest in supply chain chatter.
The issue highlights what happens when the press joins forces with the GOP to hype a made-up Biden “crisis,” and how news outlets look away when the allegation proves to be a total bust.
“The holidays are just around the corner and shoppers are seeing something that they don't like, ‘Out Of Stock.’ You see it everywhere,” CNN announced on November 10. “Better start your shopping now. The shortages that could ruin your holiday plans,” the network warned on November 16.
Between November 1 and November 30, CNN mentioned “supply chain” 330 times, according to TVeyes.com. For the month of December, when supply chain news improved, that number fell to 130 mentions, a decrease of nearly 70 percent. (Fox News referenced “supply chain” a staggering 700 times in November; 400 times in December.)
The premise of the hand-wringing coverage never made any sense — why would the president of the United States be held responsible for the shipping and handling of private companies? Biden didn’t run for office on some kind of Kris Kringle platform, promising to deliver all Christmas gifts on time.
The press spent the last five months of the year so obsessed with touting an endless list of supposed Biden calamities (remember the White House’s Colonial Pipeline “crisis”?), that news outlets seamlessly added the supply chain to Biden’s To Do list.
Recently, the New York Times was among the few news outlets to double back and to report unequivocally that Christmas gifts were delivered on time, despite the media hype to the contrary. “The UPS and the Postal Service delivered about 99 percent of their packages on time by that measure between Nov. 14 and Dec. 11, and FedEx was close behind at 97 percent,” the newspaper reported.
But note how the Times suggested “people” had been expressing concern this season about gifts not arriving on time. (“A few months ago, people worried that a disrupted supply chain would ensnare Christmas gifts. It didn’t happen.”) In truth, it was the press and Republicans — not everyday consumers — who were ceaselessly beating that anxious drum.
There was also no mention of Biden in the Times’s good-news write-up about shipping. Back in the fall, the media constantly tied the president to the supply chain issue. “The [shipping] disruptions have also become a problem for President Biden, who has been vilified on Fox News as “the Grinch who stole Christmas,” the Times reported in November. In December when the picture had improved dramatically, the Times made no reference to Biden, or suggested the update represented welcome political news for the White House.
That stems from the media’s fierce commitment to the Doomed Biden Economy narrative, even though it’s becoming increasingly difficult to sustain.
“America’s economy improved more in Joe Biden's first 12 months than any president during the past 50 years notwithstanding the contrary media narrative contributing to dour public opinion,” wrote Matthew Winkler at Bloomberg, breaking from the media pack to tout positive news. “Corporate America is booming because the Biden administration's Covid-19 vaccination programs and $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan reduced the jobless rate to 4.2% in November from 6.2% in February, continuing an unprecedented rate of decline during the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Today, Biden gets little credit. He currently nets the lowest economic rating from voters of any president at this point through their first term since Jimmy Carter in 1977, according to CNN.
Why the disconnect? A recent YouGov poll found that by an amazing 6-to-1 ratio, Americans had heard “mostly negative news stories about the economy,” including endless doomsday predictions about the supply chain, no doubt. Those polling results came in the wake of a new media study that showed Biden getting worse coverage from the Beltway press than Trump did one year ago, when the vaccine-less U.S. economy was being strangled by the pandemic.
It was strange watching the media root for a supply chain Christmas debacle this year. It was even stranger when they ignored the fact it never happened.
📰 GOOD STUFF:
Last week I wrote about how the news business is desperately trying to recreate the drama of the Trump years, in hopes it translates into ratings and clicks.
The Associated Press just detailed the 2021 decline in news attention. From, “Outlets Hurt by Dwindling Public Interest in News in 2021”:
The Trump era saw explosive subscriber growth for some digital news sites like The New York Times and Washington Post. Yet readers aren’t spending as much time there; Comscore said the number of unique visitors to the Post’s site was down 44% in November compared to November 2020, and down 34% at the Times.
🎸 FUN STUFF — BECAUSE WE ALL NEED A BREAK
Billy Bragg, “Ten Mysterious Photos That Can’t Be Explained”
Who better to take a crack at explaining our age of online misinformation than England’s legendary singer-songwriter (and left-wing activist) Billy Bragg, who penned a surprisingly cheery, jangly rock song for the occasion. It’s anchored by his signature Cockney accent, which makes everything sound more jaunty.
I've been down rabbit holes, I've seen the rabid trolls
Cackling in the twilight of the Age of Reason
One thing I've noticed as I get older
Common sense, like art, is in the eye of the beholder
Now the new breed of know nothings are flooding my screen
How they scare me, they're so goddam sure
They look like reasonable folks but the next thing you know
Is they're screaming "I don't want your cure!"
🎙 Click here to listen to the music that’s been featured on PRESS RUN, via a Spotify playlist.
Click here to listen via Apple Music.