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By a staggering ratio of six-to-one, Americans say they are seeing and hearing bad economic news more often than they are positive reports. The new polling results confirm the deep disconnect the media have constructed, as news outlets stress. discouraging news regarding the Biden economy, while often ignoring or downplaying the cascading positive developments.
Still committed to the GOP-friendly — and fictitious — storyline about a U.S. economy in decline, the press is damaging President Joe Biden’s approval rating by painting a false portrait of America. It’s doing the Republicans’ bidding — and the messaging is working.
Recently asked in a YouGov poll if they had “heard mostly positive or mostly negative news stories about the economy,” 48 percent of Americans said “mostly negative,” and just 8 percent said “mostly positive.” (28 percent said both negative/positive, and 16 percent said they hadn’t heard much about the economy at all.)
Those results are stunning, considering how many positive economic developments are being generated. Just in recent days we’ve learned that gas prices will soon be falling, wages are hitting record heights for workers, and that weekly jobless claims haven’t been this low since Jimi Hendrix played at Woodstock. Yet for most Americans, there’s only one economic story being told — a doomsday one.
The YouGov polling results come in the wake of a new media study that shows Biden is getting worse coverage than Trump did one year ago.
That nonstop stream of downbeat economic updates today has clearly influenced respondents in other ways. When asked “Which do you think is a more important problem facing the U.S. today,” just 9 percent said unemployment, where the news was been consistently good this year, but has often been underplayed by the press. By contrast, 42 percent said inflation was the most important problem, a topic that the media have hyped without pause for nearly two months echoing Republicans’ loud, doomsday attacks on the Biden economy. (Remember that weird CNN milk story?)
“The nonstop hype of “inflation, inflation, inflation” unsurprisingly leads many people to believe inflation is a really big problem, even if their own finances are pretty good, because they hear all those wise reporters at CNN, NPR, the NYT and elsewhere telling them it’s a really big problem,” notes economist Dean Baker.
A new Associated Press poll confirms Baker’s claim. The headline: “Income Is Up, But Americans Focus on Inflation.” Why is that? Probably because Americans are inundated with the media’s obsessive inflation coverage.
It’s a “political nightmare for Biden,” CNN recently stressed, while the New York Times published well over 100 articles and columns that mentioned “inflation” three or more times last month. The Washington Post announced inflation is the “defining” challenge of Biden’s presidency. Why inflation? Because the press decided.
The reason inflation has sprouted in the U.S. is because consumer demand is booming as the economy has recovered from Covid faster and stronger under Biden than most people ever thought possible. That silver lining rarely gets mentioned, though.
Contrast the inflation coverage with the unemployment coverage. In the YouGov poll, asked what today’s unemployment rate is, just 3-in-10 Americans could give an accurate response; approximately 4 percent. Nearly 4-in-10 thought the rate was above 6 percent. (17 percent thought the U.S. unemployment rate was 10 percent or more.) Just one-in-three knew that the rate decreased last month. Would more Americans have a better idea about today’s improving unemployment picture if the press more accurately covered it? Yes.
When the October blockbuster jobs report was released showing nearly 550,000 positions created that month, and that revised estimates for September and August confirmed an additional 235,000 jobs had been created, “NBC Nightly News” that night made no mention of that fact. But when the November jobs report came last week out and showed a “disappointing” 210,000 jobs added, “NBC Night News” slotted it in as the day’s third most important story.
Last Friday, National Public Radio announced the 210,000-jobs report was a “bust” even though the unemployment rate tumbled from 4.6 percent to 4.2 percent in just 30 days. And prior to Biden passing the Covid relief bill last winter, the CBO predicted it would take until 2025 for the U.S. to reach an unemployment rate of 4.2 percent. For NPR listeners though, the economic news last week as a “bust.”
This was all before Pfizer and BioNTech announced that initial lab studies show that a third dose of their Covid-19 vaccine neutralizes the looming Omicron variant, which the press had been hyping as a possible grenade targeting the U.S. economy.
On Wednesday, the White House tweeted out an economic update: “The economy has added 5.9M new jobs since January — the most jobs added in the first 11 months of a year. Since January, unemployment has fallen from 6.3% to 4.2% — the fastest single year drop. 16M fewer people are receiving unemployment since POTUS took office.”
That’s not spin, those are the facts. We’re witnessing the Biden Boom. So why are news consumers being buried with bad news?
(Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/Getty Images)
💴 GOOD STUFF:
For more on the Biden Boom, see Robert Shapiro’s excellent new piece in Washington Monthly:
Based on the data, President Biden and the Democratic Congress are set to preside over the strongest two-year performance on growth, jobs, and income in decades—so long as the current cycle of inflation eases, and the Omicron variant does not trigger another round of shutdowns. The future paths of inflation and the pandemic are large and important unknowns—but if they break right, everything else points to a Biden boom through 2022.
🎄 FUN STUFF — BECAUSE WE ALL NEED A BREAK
The Pogues, “Fairytale of New York”
The perfect jukebox song for the month of December. It’s classic Irish tale of Christmas in the drunk tank, as only Shane McGowan and the Pogues could tell. “It is by far the most complicated song that I have ever been involved in writing and performing,” McGowan once explained. “The beauty of it is it sounds really simple.”
They've got cars big as bars
They've got rivers of gold
But the wind goes right through you
It's no place for the old
When you first took my hand
On a cold Christmas Eve
You promised me
Broadway was waiting for me
🎙 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.