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It’s not necessarily the news

Interesting headline in The New York Times: “In an Unequal Economy, the Poor Face Inflation Now and Job Loss Later.”

This headline appeared on Aug. 8, after more than 50 straight days of falling gasoline prices, the biggest inflation fear. Once exceeding $5 a gallon, the price of gas in many states was already down below $4 a gallon.

As for “job loss later,” what do we mean by “later”? Later includes eternity. What we do know is that more than 500,000 Americans were hired last month, greatly exceeding economists’ predictions. The unemployment rate is at a 50-year low, and employers remain desperate for help.

We must recognize that it takes a good deal of mental dexterity to write successful clickbait headlines. But when the headline contradicts the reporting — much of it in the same news source — you have an alternative facts situation.

Although The Times is considered liberal, it is also hyper woke and sensitive to left-fringe feelings. That translates into constant carping against the Democratic leadership for not doing enough — enough of what, not always specified.

The mindset further stipulates that the working poor must be subject to pity and that good news for this group cannot be acknowledged. That’s why the report that average hourly earnings grew more than 5% in July from a year earlier — after similar annual gains each month this year — sat so unappreciated.

In truth, it doesn’t matter whether the news is good or bad. President Joe Biden must always be seen as not meeting expectations. A rhetorical trick to this end is inserting a “but” in the middle of a headline tied to an encouraging development. An example that just popped up in the Times: “Slowing inflation gave Biden a reprieve but high prices remain a political problem.”

The right accuses CNN of also being in the pocket of Democrats, but the news channel rarely presents good news without inserting its own big “but.” While reporting on the slowing inflation, Christine Romans bizarrely added, “That job market is still too hot.”

In addition to gas prices, the cost of food is down. Nonetheless, CNN tied the inflation report saying just that to a segment about food shoppers in Philadelphia complaining about … the prices. One need not go far to find someone willing to gripe about the cost of eggs.

In any case, these are First World problems. If the price of filet mignon has some consumers switching to cheaper chicken, well, the sun will still rise tomorrow at dawn. (Caviar also costs way too much, don’t you think?)

This consumer whining gets tied to Biden’s low approval numbers. And the low numbers must — The Story goes — get tied to inevitable disaster for Democrats in the midterms.

But a recent Monmouth University poll has 50% of adults preferring Democrats in the midterm elections, versus 43% for Republicans. Perhaps, just perhaps, the popularity of the president doesn’t predetermine what will happen in November. What about the unpopularity of the opposition?

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