Accuracy in Media

After two years of back-and-forth, the United States and China reached an agreement to settle the longtime trade dispute, called “Phase One.”

The Trump administration hailed the agreement as China finally conceding on issues such as intellectual property rights while the United States was able to hold the line on tariffs. The mainstream media remained skeptical of the trade deal and quoted multiple economists to prove their point.

NBC News published an analysis that panned the trade deal, only praising the deal as one that now “sets aside some of the economic uncertainty that has generated market volatility and depressed business investment.” Yet the news outlet quoted trade experts that criticized the deal, saying it “falls short of “justifying a globally damaging trade war between the world’s two largest economies” while leading to higher costs for U.S. companies and consumers in the long-term.

Nowhere in the analysis did NBC News mention the intellectual property component of the deal, instead focusing primarily on the United States’ tariffs on $370 billion worth of Chinese imports and criticizing the deal for creating unenforceable benchmarks. NBC News and the mainstream media have long criticized the trade dispute because economists believe that it will lead to companies raising prices of their goods. Yet during the long trade dispute, the media has not been able to pinpoint whether prices of goods have increased. The media published many articles and stories about farmers struggling due to the tariffs and trade dispute, but the farmers remained loyal to Trump’s overall goal of keeping China accountable on trade and intellectual property. Nothing the media said changed farmers’ minds, and nothing the media said about the possible rise in prices appeared to occur.

Against all conventional economic wisdom, the Trump administration negotiated a favorable trade deal for the United States and was able to accomplish its goal of holding China accountable for intellectual property. Economists long criticized the administration for engaging in a two-years-long trade dispute and claimed it would lead to overall U.S. economic struggles and possibly a recession, none of which happened.

Both economists and the mainstream media were mistaken about the impact of Trump’s trade dispute and negotiations with China, and they refuse to abandon their skepticism in favor of admitting that Trump’s tactics worked. This example of blatant media bias further diminishes trust between the U.S. consumer and the media, which trust continues to drop despite the media’s claim that they act as a neutral arbiter of truth.

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