by Richard Cameron
The Mainstream Media Provides Anti-Biden Narratives To The GOP
The legacy or mainstream media – the alphabets, CNN and various other news outlets, are exhibiting the behavior of Piranha fish. They are looking for the slightest weaknesses in the performance of the Biden White House and President Biden himself, attacking them and then following the blood in the water for more attacks.
Notice I did not mention Fox News or OAN(N), Sinclair Broadcasting or Newsmax and that ilk. That’s because they are a known commodity in the business of GOP partisan and right wing agitprop and aren’t even feigning objectivity about President Biden, his administration or the Democrat party.
But as the rest of the mass media constellation takes aim at a wounded Joe Biden, the far right happily adopts the talking points coming from the supposedly more objective elements of the American mass media.
In nightly news commentary and analysis, tele-journalists flog Biden and his cabinet officials on a seemingly endless variety of alleged sins of omission and commission. The economy, the pandemic, foreign policy.
They paint Joe Biden as impotent as concerns the uphill battle of passing essential legislation to protect the foundations of democracy and effectively managing immigration enforcement at the nation’s Southern border.
The explanation, no doubt, from some media analysts is that coverage of this presidency is just driven by Biden’s dismal public approval polling. They say that Biden’s alleged lackluster performance is opening the door to pointed critiques from nightly news and thinly veiled opinion.
Is that it, or are the appalling numbers a lagging indicator of the battering this POTUS has taken nearly from the beginning of his presidency from the mass media?
Is the reporting from broadcast platforms simply reflecting the pulse of public sentiment or is public sentiment an echo of the constant, distorted reporting itself? We’ll circle back to that question going forward, but first, an outline of the criticism and a reality check regarding them, is worth examining.
Understand that we are not arguing in favor of a hands off policy from the world of journalism toward any elected official, much less the president, but we will attempt to make the case for fairness.
This will be the first in a three part series detailing the authentic factors at play that Biden has had little direct control over since he took office a year ago. We’ll start with the economy.
Biden and the inflationary cycle
Most observers of the political calculus of domestic policy, conclude that the condition of the economy is the key driver of public opinion as it impacts the president’s ratings. “It’s the economy, stupid!”
Inflation is a persistent inflection point. To hear the reporting on it, you might be likely to conclude at face value, that Biden and his administration have a magic wand that they could wave at the problem and that Biden has the total facility at his command to stop inflation in its tracks. That is far from the case.
What are the key factors in the inflation equation? For one, monetary policy – the actions and inactions of the central bank in the U.S. – the Federal Reserve. The Federal Reserve is not actually concerned with inflation. Maybe that seems like a controversial statement, but the evidence supports it.
The Fed perceives correctly that its client is not the American public at large, but instead, corporations, Wall Street, banks and the narrow strip of the investment class often referred to as the 1 percent and less. As the late George Carlin notably said in a monologue (“The American Dream”), regarding the landscape of true power in America:
“It’s a big club and you ain’t in it – you and I are not in the big club. The table is tilted, folks, the game is rigged and nobody seems to notice, nobody seems to care. Good, honest hard working people continue to elect these rich c*suckers who don’t give a f** about them.”
He did put it in blunt terms, but however you wish to sanitize it, the record reflects the manner in which the playing field is tilted to make the outcome of the rich gaining more ground, a foregone conclusion.
The “owners” that Carlin describes, have accountants sitting in the offices of members of Congress, presenting tax avoidance and other policies to their legislative staffers that insure their dominance in both the short and long haul. There is a name for it – “Corporate Socialism” and it extends to the upper realms of the investment class.
Fed policy, if not entirely responsible for the creation of an inflationary bubble, has certainly played a prominent role. Why? Because the oligarchs (the “owners” in George Carlin’s parlance) increase their assets during events that precipitate economic upheaval, most notably this pandemic – and the primary factor is access to cheap debt acquisition and borrowing.
The Federal Reserve, cheap money, billionaires and struggling families
Lucas Chancel, co-director of the World Inequality Lab, disclosed in the non-profit’s most recent report that billionaires accumulated 3.6 trillion euros ($4.1 trillion) of wealth during the worldwide COVID-19 crisis, while simultaneously, the World Bank estimates that some 100 million people have fallen into extreme poverty.
Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and Space X, for instance, saw his net worth increase by $184 Billion just in the period between March of 2020 and October of 2021.
The wealth gap and income inequality has consistently widened during the last three decades. Inequality.org reports as of last October that, “the $5 trillion in wealth now held by 745 billionaires is two-thirds more than the $3 trillion in wealth held by the bottom 50 percent of U.S. households estimated by the Federal Reserve Board.”
Oh, there’s the Fed once again. Of course they track numbers like this. Mind you, the Fed Reserve doesn’t even attempt to conceal the disparity in net worth they have created. They view it as an accomplishment. These statistics are their report card reflecting how successful they have been in ballooning the wealth holdings of the strata that they act as fiscal concierges to.
Will the Fed change course? Providing insight into that prospect, requires that we examine their posture on inflation for the entire span of time that the condition has been deteriorating.
In August of 2020, in response to clear signals that inflation was on the uptick, the Fed resisted applying the brakes on bond and asset purchases. Not only did they resist correction in monetary policy, they actually embraced a course of action that was guaranteed to land whoever won the 2020 presidential election in hot water with most American households once they took office.
Since then, the Fed, despite the constant upward trend of inflation, has continued to dig in their heels on continuing on the same course. One headline in the economic journal, Barrons, amounted to a seemingly Freudian slip, saying that Fed Chair Jerome Powell, “promised to not take the punch bowl away from the stock market.”
The party at which this zero interest “punch bowl” continued to be prominently featured, was – spoiler alert, the markets – which otherwise would never manage to justify the absurd valuations and irrational exuberance they have been displaying for close to 8 years running.
That the so named intoxicant served up to the investment class is really an open secret, is indicated in the comments from members of the Fed themselves. In March of last year, San Francisco Fed President Mary Daly, herself stated, “We won’t be preemptively taking the punchbowl away.”
Does any of this sound like equitable economic policy or does it sound more like institutionalized financial racketeering? Daly says of the earlier historical instances when the Fed acted more responsibly and equitably regarding the proverbial “punchbowl”:
“That’s something that worked maybe in the past, definitely doesn’t work now, and we’re committed to leaving that punchbowl or monetary policy accommodation in place until the job is fully and truly done.”
Until what “job is fully and truly done”? Until the pigs have finished feeding at the trough and are sated on the pork belly of cheap borrowing enabled by the Fed Reserve.
Apparently, they have not quite yet reached that ultimate state of porcine bliss, despite recent mild acknowledgments from Chairman Powell that the inflation we’re seeing is not as “transitory” as he and the bank have persistently claimed it is. The Fed still has a case of the slows on dialing back the stimulus that long ago ceased to be of any general value other than to artificially fluff up the markets for the owners.
Biden cannot remove Chairman Powell before his term ends (February 2022), at least not as a matter of traditional custom, but the president has no plans to do so anyway. As a practical matter, whatever might be in the bull pen to replace him, might not even be an upgrade. The corruption is systemic to the entity itself.
There are other factors influencing the increased costs of goods and services, but next on the list, directly below opportunistic monetary policy, is the basic reality of markets in any form of a capitalistic economy – the gravitational forces of supply and demand.
Sayonara to personal accountability and hello to personal fiscal irresponsibility
It is ironic that if the presidential approval polls are reasonably accurate, Americans are shifting blame of inflationary pressures off themselves and onto Joe Biden. Remember that while American consumers are squealing like swine about the cost of everything (including Bacon), they continue to practice their own household version of fiscal irresponsibility.
This past holiday season, in the midst of a raging pandemic, Americans spent unprecedented sums of money on personal credit, for a whole plethora of unnecessary purchases of Christmas gifts, new automobiles, cross-continent flights, luxury vacations and even continued to bury themselves in new mortgage debt, purchasing houses at the top of an inflated housing market.
The ICSC, a retail analysis firm, surveyed shoppers last fall and among their findings:
Shoppers noted a higher cost of holiday items (28%), an increase in the number of people for whom they bought gifts (26%), and wanting to go above and beyond for a more celebratory atmosphere (25%) as the top reasons for spending more than in 2020.
In saner and more sensible times past, citizens would cinch up their financial belts, pay down debt instead of take on more of it and defer gratification. Not now. But I digress somewhat. The shortest line between higher costs and a return to sanity is to restrain consumption and demand and thus, increase supply. Increased supply = lower prices = lower inflation numbers.
Naturally, some other elements will be introduced to this analysis – supply chain disruptions from clogged ports to increased fuel costs to labor shortages. But in the main, those can be remedied over time and President Biden is directing his administration to partner with the private sector to improve those circumstances.
I am certainly sympathetic to the pressures that increased costs of basics impose on fellow Americans of limited means – gas, groceries and the like. Those who are genuinely struggling to make ends meet, are, by necessity, trimming back and it is painful. I live in that same space myself.
Much of the surge in prices of various consumer items can be at least in part, traced back to consumption patterns. But speculative hoarding of mundane things like toilet paper all the way to excessive purchases of clothing, shoes, iPhone 13s, Samsung Galaxy S21s and other commodities that are, in the majority, imported from China, only exacerbate the problem and the price spikes.
Remember, corporations, whether they be domestic manufacturers, or importers, are not absorbing the higher costs of materials, labor or distribution – they are passing as much of it on to you, the consumer, as the market conditions will permit. A component of all this are the Trump tariffs which by and large are actually being paid, not by the nation of origin, but by American consumers.
Biden is in a Catch 22 at this point. If he unilaterally removes the tariffs, he will draw criticism for not holding China’s feet to the fire on unfair trading practices like currency manipulation and intellectual property theft and will be accused of legitimizing China’s aggressive posture towards its neighbors in the East and South China Seas.
Winter storms are also leading to supply chain disruption. Perhaps Biden should be blamed for the severity and volatility of weather conditions resulting from climate change.
As a consequence of the mass media’s sensationalized and irresponsible criticism of Biden,Conservative media and politicos are now leveraging the constant barrage of reporting on random shortages on retail shelves, into yet another gross exaggeration and ambush against President Biden.
They are now deploying the hashtag #BareShelvesBiden to target blame on the current administration for the shortages, even though grocery stores experienced serious supply problems under Donald Trump, as well. Where was “#Empty ShelvesTrump“?
Please weigh in on your thoughts and reactions to this first in a series by scrolling to the bottom of the page and engaging with us on the comments window. Next in the series – the mainstream media’s strafing of Biden on foreign policy.