The Corporate Media Could Cost Democrats–Again

Here are just some consequential accomplishments the Democratic party can boast of this first year of the Biden administration with a congressional majority:

While there is more–lot more–to do and should have been done, Democrats have done more for the American people in 11 months than republicans have the past 40 years.

But if we just listened to the corporate for-profit media, we would assume Democrats are bumbling around the halls of the Capitol trying to find the exits.

Here’s an example.

Most pay no attention to vice presidents.

The role itself holds little constitutional responsibility other than being “president of the Senate.”

Traditionally, vice presidents wait until being delegated to lead initiatives and serve as point persons between Congress and the White House.

Donald Trump handed dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic to Mike Pence. (It’s still Trump’s fault.)

President Obama, for example, tapped then-Vice President Joe Biden to lead the gun violence task force in 2012 after the Sandy Hook, CT elementary school massacre.

Obama also gave Biden the responsibility of helping to stanch migration from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras.

This is the same Job Biden presented VP Kamala Harris back in April.

Harris also met with French President Emmanuel Macron last month on a partnership to help combat space and cybersecurity and ease the tension between us over the Australia, UK, and US (AUKUS) strategic submarine defense deal.

She announced an historic $1.5 billion investment to increase and diversify the health care workforce.

Yet The Atlantic called her “uninteresting” and taunted her supposed lack of political acumen.

CNN (the “liberal” media) used words like “exasperation,” “dysfunction,” “frustrating” in a headline that began:

“Worn out by what they see as entrenched dysfunction and lack of focus, key West Wing aides have largely thrown up their hands at Vice President Kamala Harris and her staff–deciding there simply isn’t time to deal with them right now, especially at a moment when President Joe Biden faces quickly multiplying legislative and political concerns.”

 The Associated Press took shots too:

“When she delivered her speech on the infrastructure law, there was little sign of Democratic enthusiasm. The crowd of invited guests barely filled one-quarter of a local union hall….Harris’ allies are especially frustrated that Biden seems to have limited the vice president to a low-profile role with a difficult policy portfolio.”

And who managed to avoid the “headline” about Harris firing back at Charlamagne tha God when he asked her on his show Tha God’s Honest Truth which Joe is the “real president,” Biden or WV Sen. Joe Manchin?

But VP Harris, of course, isn’t the sole target.

Despite the corporate media implying she’s not “presidential” enough, it is doing real harm to Biden’s accomplishments as well.

Turn on any major news outlet and we’ve bound at some point to hear the dread “I” word–inflation.

Inflation is noteworthy, and it’s incumbent upon the media to address it.

It is, after all, causing real hardship for about 45 percent of Americans.

But nuance is not the corporate media’s forte.

As The Daily Poster asks:

“Have you noticed that all the media fearmongering about wage inflation hasn’t mentioned the soaring salaries of corporate executives?

“Have you noticed how most of the headlines about price increases haven’t mentioned medicine, health insurance, and housing prices that have been skyrocketing for years?

“Have you noticed that stories about expensive essential goods don’t mention the record profits of the companies selling them?”

The bottom 60 percent have more money than before COVID-19 hit a year and a half ago, even after accounting for inflation. Wage increases and government programs like the American Rescue Package that provided pandemic relief checks and the Child Tax Credit are on pace to reduce poverty nearly by half.

While corporate lobbying groups like the  U.S. Chamber of Commerce steer the narrative toward high gas prices and rising grocery costs, the fact we are not being told gas prices  were higher 10 years ago, as was the price of milk, leaves most Americans assuming this is a new problem that just materialized on Joe Biden’s watch.

Lest we forget, we are still in the grips of a global pandemic that a year ago shuttered just about everything.

Emphasis on “global”.

It shut down shipping ports and delayed rail lines, air and ground transport.

Getting all this up and running again isn’t as easy as just hanging an “OPEN” sign on our door.

In the global economy in which we find ourselves sometimes in a disadvantageous position, we are at the mercy of myriad moving parts.

Consider also that the very same economic greed that created the inequality plaguing us (pun intended) still runs the show.

Again, from The Daily Poster:

“As banks notch record profits, executives are finding ways to ‘juice’ their salaries. There’s a 20- to 30-percent ‘private jet inflation’ caused by booming demand from rich people who saw their wealth soar during the pandemic. Rich people have so much spare cash laying around they are buying digital art for tens of millions of dollars, creating new speculative bubbles. Corporations are seeing their largest profits since 1950 (and still jacking up prices of essentials). Over the last 40 years, the top 1 percent have seen income gains far outpacing inflation, while workers’ wages have flatlined.”

Last summer the media oo’d and aah’d over former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos rocketing himself into space while management fights worker unionization tooth and nail.

The day President Biden signed the historic “Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act,” the Washington Post ran a front-page story on how he isn’t “pessimistic enough”.

Economist Dean Baker explained:

“The nonstop hype of ‘inflation, inflation, inflation’ unsurprisingly leads many people to believe inflation is a really big problem, even if their own finances are pretty good, because they hear all those wise reporters at CNN, NPR, the NYT and elsewhere telling them it’s a really big problem.”

The Associated Press (the same that blamed VP Harris for lack of Democratic enthusiasm) recently ran the headline, “Income Is Up, But Americans Focus on Inflation.”

Do most Americans even know what is in the Build Back Better Act?

The answer is no, and we should lay that inexcusably in the corporate media’s lap.

Pertaining to the pandemic, where were we a year ago when Trump and company were plotting to overthrow the government on January 6?

As Reuters reported New Year’s Eve 2020:

“Only about 2.8 million Americans had received a COVID-19 vaccine going into the last day of December, putting the United States far short of the government’s target to vaccinate 20 million people this month.”

When Biden took office 21 days later, his first priority was to fix that.

While the initial rollout last winter was frustrating, we have to understand that the Trump White House threw out the “pandemic playbook” the Obama administration had developed during the Ebola outbreak.

Now we have more vaccines than people are willing to get them while third-world countries suffer with their paucity.

There are disappointments, of course, though.

While we got the long-awaited infrastructure bill, it was significantly watered down thanks to two “Democratic” senators, West Va. Sen. Joe Manchin and Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema.

They are also causing us to have to wait for the “human infrastructure” bill known as the “Build Back Better Act.”

The Senate needs to pass the Freedom to Vote Act or the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act NOW lest the more than 440 bills intended to restrict voting access that 49 states have introduced destroy any semblance of free and fair elections on which we theoretically pride ourselves.

In order to do that, the Senate must allow a similar exemption to the filibuster it created to pass a debt ceiling increase.

Democrats, while not without faults or warranting criticism, are still fighting for the policies the majority of the American people want:

Republicans, on the other hand, want the opposite, and are doubling down on their fascist agenda.

The corporate masters benefiting from permanent tax cuts and outsourcing jobs are the largely the same benefiting from the wealth our for-profit media generates.

Need proof?

Turn on any so-called “liberal” news outlet and watch the commercials for the pharmaceutical and fossil fuels industries and Medicare Advantage.

Remember what former CBS head Les Moonves proclaimed back in 2016 before Donald Trump took over the republican party:

 “I’ve never seen anything like this, and this going to be a very good year for us. Sorry. It’s a terrible thing to say. But, bring it on, Donald. Keep going. It may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS.”

As progressive talk show host and author Thom Hartmann–a frequent critic of our obsequious corporate media–recently wrote in his piece “Why We Urgently Need Media Outlets for the Common Good“:

“These are dangerous times, and news organizations putting profits over democracy is a sure path to America ending up like Hungary with a corrupt, strongman ‘conservative’ running the country.

Yes, the media biased–toward the wealthy and corporations, which are by nature not democratic.

This is a result of it overcompensating after overtly and proudly biased right-wing hate media relentlessly “calls out” its “liberal bias.”

There is a truly liberal, progressive media, but it does not have nearly the financial capacity nor audience of the over 1,500 right-wing talk radio stations, including several hundred Spanish-language ones.

And, of course, there’s the internet and the mother of all propaganda networks Fox so-called “news”.

The media’s job is to be critical and remain unbeholden to any political ideology.

It is “fourth estate.”

But it cannot be free of political bias and financial bias simultaneously.

It cannot serve two masters.

In 2016, the media handed Donald Trump thousands of hours and millions of dollars in free airtime in addition to giving him pass after pass simply by dint of his being “new”.

We can blame this in part on the Reagan administration’s decision to stop enforcing the Fairness Doctrine and Obama’s removing it from the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) code.

We can also blame Bill Clinton’s signing of the Telecommunications Act in 1996.

Social media being allowed to promote fake news in the form of foreign trolls and bots is problematic too.

But the current running through both–money.

Money is the cancer in our politics as it is in our media.

Just Donald Trump played the media in 2016, the next Trump wanna-be is going to do the same if we don’t reverse course soon.

Image credit: Lumen Learning

Ted Millar is writer and teacher. His work has been featured in myriad literary journals, including Better Than Starbucks, The Broke Bohemian, Straight Forward Poetry, Caesura, Circle Show, Cactus Heart, Third Wednesday, and The Voices Project. He is also a contributor to The Left Place blog on Substack, and Medium.