On Friday, Politico’s Playbook newsletter provided further example of the outlet’s history of engaging in dishonest both-sides narratives, as well as downplaying the ongoing threat to democracy from former President Donald Trump’s efforts to subvert the 2020 election. In this latest example, Politico has drawn false equivalencies to somehow put economic fluctuations on the same level of controversy as the near-destruction of American democracy.
Trump’s Terrible Thursday…
The newsletter was titled “Trump’s terrible Thursday, followed by Biden’s bad Friday?” The events of “Trump’s bad day” were a “double-whammy,” starting with reports that he could potentially be deposed in New York’s fraud investigation of the Trump Organization. In addition, a federal appeals court rejected his claims of executive privilege in his attempt to block the National Archives from turning over material to the House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection.
For some reason, however, the newsletter neglected to also mention another major development Thursday in the investigations of January 6: The contents of a PowerPoint presentation reportedly contained in emails that were submitted to the House select committee by former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows. The presentation outlined far-fetched conspiracy theories of massive election fraud perpetrated on an international scale, and called for then-President Trump to declare a national security emergency while Vice President Mike Pence would “delay” certifying Joe Biden’s victory in the election. (Politico did not mention the presentation in its Thursday’s Politico Nightly newsletter, either.)
The existence of the presentation was noted earlier this week by Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), in a letter to Meadows’ lawyer, and that it was contained in an email dated January 5, though it is still not clear who had sent the email or drew up the presentation. The presentation’s contents were posted on Twitter on Thursday evening by reporter Andrew Feinberg of The Independent.
…Biden’s Bad Friday?
As for what could possibly compare on Joe Biden’s side of the ledger: Politico pointed to the day’s upcoming release of Consumer Price Index data for November 2021, which would provide a measure of how inflation is affecting the economy — as if a global trend of increased prices for consumer goods during Biden’s presidency could compare to Trump’s seemingly fraudulent business dealings, or to an attempted coup engineered by Trump and his supporters. Even then, Politico failed to accurately present this story about inflation in its proper context.
Inflation is currently a global phenomenon, caused by disruptions in supply chains and major shifts in consumer demand as every country in the world responds to and recovers from the pandemic-induced global recession. All of these circumstances are further complicated by the recent emergence of COVID-19 variants, which have caused markets in different areas of the world to act out of sync with one another.
Politico has failed to put American inflation in its full context, fixating on how a single monthly data release might affect negotiations over core remaining aspects of Biden’s economic agenda — in addition to the gross comparison of the issue with the former president’s corruption and attempted overthrow of the republic.
AS FOR THE CURRENT POTUS — If Trump had a bad day Thursday, it might be JOE BIDEN’s turn on Friday. A pair of critical reports out today could cause a spate of negative headlines just as the White House is looking to push Build Back Better (BBB) past the finish line.
One is the consumer price index for November, which is expected to show rising inflation. The other is a Congressional Budget Office score of the fiscal impacts of BBB assuming its programs are funded for a decade. (Under the current bill, the programs expire after a couple years, but Republicans and even moderates like JOE MANCHIN have said it’s fiscally irresponsible not to assume they won’t be extended longer, and thus pressed to see a longer, 10-year cost analysis.)
The newsletter then claimed that the White House’s response was to “downplay both” and “cling to positive headlines” — but at the same time, “there are positive signs on the horizon, at least at the moment,” such as key commodity prices already beginning to fall, as well as the lowest jobless numbers in 52 years.
“But the disconnect between some of these economic numbers and voter perceptions remains a serious problem for the White House. And today’s reports — if they’re as bad as Democrats are bracing for — won’t help the rosy narrative they’re clinging to.”
Maybe the perception problem here is that mainstream media outlets turn every story into a political horse race, equivocating between genuinely shocking misconduct and ordinary news developments.