Accuracy in Media

The problem with the American press is not that it is politically biased, but that outlets try to pretend they aren’t politically biased. 

Then they become just another player in a political scrum that values “winning the goal” over concepts like truth or even winning the game. And that makes them just another set of politicians. 

We should keep this in mind as Congress debates yet another proposal by President Joe Biden to spend amounts of money that we don’t have and relies more on the math borrowed from fantasy football than it does real life, just like every president does.  

Last week the CBO reported that if the proposals in Biden’s Build Back Better social spending plan become permanent it will add $3 trillion to the budget deficit over a ten year period, quite far from the deficit-neutral claim that came from Biden, a claim that the press tried to support.   

“In theory, the bill could live up to that promise [to be debt neutral],” Politifact wrote at the time. “If the trillions of dollars in spending is offset by trillions of dollars in tax hikes on corporations and the wealthy, as Biden said, the bill could be debt neutral.” 

If, if, if, then, could. A lot of qualifiers. So let’s agree that if it were a GOP proposal using the same questionable math, Politifact’s pants would be on fire calling it a lie, not in theory, but in reality. 

The Washington Post, in its own analysis of the Biden plan, wrote that “there are a number of gimmicks” in the bill that hide the true cost the plan. But the Post eventually gave away its intent in the concluding sentence. 

“While the final details are being worked out on the Build Back Better plan,” the Post wrote, “the emerging consensus is that these bills are a major attempt to address barriers that have long held back the U.S. economy from its full potential.” 

Details about how much something might cost were irrelevant to the Post in the end, the important thing was to pass the historic bill so the economy finally if, if, if, then, could, meet its manifest destiny to fulfill the yada, yada, yada, etc. etc., ad nauseum. 

It would be better for the press– more genuine for the Post, and for Politifact– if they just admitted, in the very beginning, that regardless of the effects on the deficit, they support Biden’s proposals. 

People would trust them more if they did that.  Can’t fault a partisan for helping the Big Guy’s policies, whoever the Big Guy happens to be at the time.   

And it’s important for the rest of us to keep all of this in mind as the fight resumes to pass the social spending portion of the Biden agenda. 

Because the Biden folks have been working with the press even this week to get even better coverage for Biden from outlets like the Post. 

One Washington Post writer said the press coverage of Biden had been so bad that he accused “the media [of] serving as accessories to the murder of democracy.” 

CNN reported last week that the White House talks with media outlets to improve the Biden coverage have been “productive” according to the NY Post. 

So Biden, now deprived of the claim that his proposals “will cost zero”, will be pivoting to the harder-to-disprove claim that more spending as put forward in his Build Back Better bill will help tame inflation after he first prepped the press in exclusive briefings. 

And the White House will trot out the 17 Nobel Prize economists who will sign on to anything to help the Democrats, who will then swear that yes, Joe Biden will cure cancer with this bill, or some other ridiculous notion, promising that the important thing was to pass the historic bill so the economy finally if, if, if, then, could, meet its manifest destiny to fulfill the yada, yada, yada, etc. etc., ad nauseum.

And just like that, expect the press, along with the WaPost and the fact-checkers to follow suit. 

And the trouble with that scenario is that you’ll only know if they were wrong –again–about inflation when inflation takes the money directly out of your own wallet. 




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