Trump money
Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

Research/Study Research/Study

Television news fails to cover latest inflationary Trump policy plan: Devaluing the US dollar

In contrast to cable and broadcast news, multiple print and online outlets covered the planned currency devaluation, which would increase inflation

Broadcast and cable television news have failed to mention news first reported two weeks ago by Politico that some Trump economic advisers are planning to intentionally devalue the U.S. dollar if he is re-elected. The plan is intended to reduce America's trade deficit, but would have the effect of worsening inflation by making imports more expensive.

The lack of attention to this inflationary policy proposal is striking given the amount of attention inflation has received from news outlets, which have frequently framed inflation as a major political liability for the Biden administration and a potential strength for Trump's re-election efforts.

In contrast, Politico and other news organizations have reported about the proposal in online and print coverage, and most of them mentioned that it would worsen inflation in addition to broadly undermining the American economy, like several of the former president’s other policies.

  • Cable and broadcast TV news failed to report on the Trump team’s plan to devalue the U.S. dollar

    • Broadcast and cable news failed to mention reported plans to devalue the U.S. dollar in a second Trump administration. According to a transcript search of the Kinetiq database, CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, ABC’s World News Tonight, CBS’ Evening News and Weekend News, NBC’s Nightly News, and PBS’ NewsHour all failed to report on Trump’s dollar devaluation plan between April 15, when Politico first reported the story, and April 29.
    • Inflation was the most mentioned topic in economic news coverage on the CBS weekend and evening and NBC evening news programs in the first three months of 2024. Inflation was also the second most covered economic topic on PBS, and the third most covered economic topic on ABC. [Media Matters, 4/25/24]
    • Major newspapers have often failed to inform readers about the inflationary effects of Trump’s policy proposals in their coverage of inflation. An ongoing Media Matters analysis of inflation coverage from the top five U.S. newspapers by circulation has found almost no mention of the inflationary impacts of policies proposed by former President Donald Trump. Media Matters reviewed 192 articles published from January 11 through April 9, and just 6 articles contained a mention of how Trump’s policies may worsen inflation — just over 3%. [Media Matters, 3/25/24, 4/23/24]
  • In contrast, multiple outlets covered the Trump devaluation plan in online coverage

    • Politico: “Trump trade advisers plot dollar devaluation.” On April 15, Politico reported that “Economic advisers close to former President Donald Trump are actively debating ways to devalue the U.S. dollar if he’s elected to a second term — a dramatic move that could boost U.S. exports but also reignite inflation.” The article further reported that “the idea is being discussed by former trade chief Robert Lighthizer — a potential Treasury secretary pick for Trump and the architect of the former president’s bruising tariff campaign against China — and policy advisers allied with him.” [Politico, 4/15/24]
    • Washington Post economic columnist Catherine Rampell described the devaluation plot as “Trump’s most inflationary, economically destructive idea yet.” In her opinion column, Rampell explained that Trump “weaken[ing] our currency” would “open a Pandora’s shipping container of disastrous consequences,” possibly including “tank[ing] the economy.” [The Washington Post, 4/16/24]
    • Forbes reported that Trump was “reportedly exploring ideas about devaluing the dollar if he returns to the White House.” Trump directly criticized the strong U.S. dollar, calling its “new 34-year high against the yen a ‘disaster.’” In an earlier column, Forbes contributor Christine McDaniel, who is also a senior research fellow at the libertarian Mercatus Center, warned of Lighthizer’s plan, “Anything the United States would gain through a devaluation in terms of cheaper exports, it would lose through its relatively pricier imports. … So, either American consumers and businesses would face higher prices here at home, U.S. exports would become less competitive, or a bit of both.” [Forbes, 4/23/24, 4/16/24]
    • Vox covered the devaluation plot in an article titled, “Trump’s team keeps promising to increase inflation.” Vox explained that “a plan to devalue the dollar is — quite literally — a plan to make products more expensive for American consumers.” [Vox, 4/24/24]
    • Politico quoted Biden campaign spokesman James Singer saying of the devaluation proposal: “What Trump and his allies are proposing would bring chaos to economic markets, raise costs on working families and send inflation skyrocketing.” [Politico, 4/24/24]
  • Economic experts have explained that multiple Trump policy proposals would worsen inflation

    • Per reporting from The Washington Post, former chief economist for the Trump administration's Council of Economic Advisers Casey B. Mulligan “estimated in an interview that Trump’s 10 percent import tariff proposal would add an extra percentage point to inflation, or a quarter percent a year if spread out over four years.” [The Washington Post, 1/7/24]
    • Conservative economist Doug Holtz-Eakin suggested that Trump’s trade and immigration policies might lead to a “wage-price spiral,” a condition in which pay increases and prices push one another upward and thus cancel out any seeming benefit for workers. [The Washington Post, 1/7/24]
    • Conservative American Enterprise Institute economist Michael Strain also suggested that Trump's mass deportation policy “could spark a wage-price spiral, which would be inflationary.” [Politico, 3/7/24]
    • Center for Economic and Policy Research senior economist Dean Baker: “Trump is promising massive tax increases in the form of tariffs, which will send inflation soaring if he carries through with them.” [Twitter/X, 3/2/24]
    • Former Federal Reserve economist Claudia Sahm stated that Trump's plan of “jacking up tariffs and cutting off immigration are both inflationary." [Twitter/X, 2/29/24]
    • Adam Posen, president of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, explained that Trump's mass deportation plan “would lead to very sudden spikes in prices of key goods like fresh produce, hotel rooms, and housing repairs.” [The Washington Post, 1/7/24]
    • Economic Policy Institute chief economist Josh Bivens: “If a future Trump administration really did deport millions of workers, that would be inflationary.” [Politico, 3/7/24]
    • The U.S. International Trade Commission found that the Trump administration's tariffs on Chinese imports had the effect of “raising costs for American companies” and “increased prices of US products.” [Bloomberg, 3/16/23]
    • The Federal Reserve raised interest rates following Trump's tax cuts to counter their inflationary pressure. The Tax Policy Center explained that since Trump's tax cuts were “enacted at a time when unemployment was low and output was near its potential level,” “the increase in demand was offset by tighter monetary policy, as the Federal Reserve held interest rates higher than they otherwise would have been to prevent an increase in inflation.” [Tax Policy Center, January 2024]
    • National Foreign Trade Council President Jake Colvin: Trump advisers’ plan to devalue the U.S. dollar “could spark a number of unintended consequences including inflationary global currency and trade wars.” [Politico, 4/15/24]
  • Methodology

  • Media Matters searched transcripts in the Kinetiq database for all original programming on CNN, Fox News Channel, and MSNBC as well as all original episodes for ABC’s World News Tonight, CBS’ Evening News and Weekend News, NBC’s Nightly News, and PBS’ NewsHour for any of the terms “Trump,” “Lighthizer,” “adviser,” or “advisers” within 20 words of any of the terms “currency,” “dollar,” “devalue,” “inflation,” “inflationary,” “trade,” “export,” or “exports” from April 15, 2024, when Politico first reported on Lighthizer’s plan to devalue the U.S. dollar, through April 29, 2024.

    We timed segments, which we defined as instances when Lighthizer’s reported plan to devalue the U.S. dollar was the stated topic of discussion or when we found significant discussion of the plan. We defined significant discussion as instances when two or more speakers in a segment discussed Lighthizer’s plan with one another.

    We also timed mentions, which we defined as instances when a single speaker in a segment on another topic mentioned Lighthizer’s reported plan to devalue the U.S. dollar without another speaker engaging with the comment, and teasers, which we defined as instances when the anchor or host promoted a segment about the plan scheduled to air later in the broadcast.

    We rounded all times to the nearest minute.

  • Update (5/1/24): Doug Holtz-Eakin's description has been updated for clarity.