Media

News Corp expands its pro-Trump #fakenews despite failing U.S. economy

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(Screen shot via @CBSNews)

With the U.S. economy steadily deteriorating, the pro-Trump mass media are pushing their fake news generators into overdrive.

Intriguing new methods of deception are emerging.

Most TV news reports over the weekend cherry-picked Friday’s data on January’s jobs. The statistics were a mix of good news and bad. Total jobs increased. But so did people looking for work. The jobless rate for women decreased. But for men, it increased. The overall jobless rate did not go up. It did not go down either. Wages increased over the year. So did inflation.

Naturally, the pro-Trump media highlighted only the positive — in stark contrast to their approach through the Obama years.

The Wall Street Journal headed its item,

‘U.S. Gained 200,000 Jobs in January as Wages Picked Up.’

News Corp’s stablemate, MarketWatchenthused,

‘Jobs, jobs, jobs: Low unemployment, hiring surge means bigger payday for workers.’

A second ruse is to ignore the routine adjustments these monthly figures require. Unexpected rises or falls are often statistical blips which need to be verified in a month or two. Caution is therefore required before handing out condemnation — or praise.

But not in Trump’s USA. Last month, the President tweeted:

‘African American unemployment is the lowest ever recorded in our country. The Hispanic unemployment rate dropped a full point in the last year and is close to the lowest in recorded history. Dems did nothing for you but get your vote!’

This was amplified on TV, in mainstream newspapers and other fake news outlets across the U.S. ‘Trump keeps his promise: Blacks and Hispanics do better with him than Obama’, declared Fox News.

NPR proclaimed, ‘President Trump “So Happy” Black Unemployment Rate At A Historic Low.’

Trump’s self-congratulations continued at Davos, in his State of the Union address and elsewhere.

As we discovered on Friday, however, the figures on which all this braggadocio were based, were incorrect, and have now been revised. The January figures show 1,393,000 Hispanics are still unemployed, a jobless rate of 5%, wiping out “gains” which falsely appeared to have been made since September.

It is worse for Black Americans: 1,548,000 are now unemployed, a jobless rate of 7.7%. That compares with 7.6% last May and 7.1% in June — before Trump’s policies had taken effect.

But here’s the thing. Fox News, NPR and the other pro-Trump media feel no need to correct the exaggerations previously published. Nor has Trump tweeted a correction.

The third standard deception is to ignore completely the current global surge in trade, corporate profits, economic growth and jobs. Thus, in the USA, if any indicator advances, this is attributable solely to Donald the Great. In fact, the U.S. jobless rate of 4.1% ranks equal 47th in the world. Equal with Bangladesh and Myanmar.

The annual growth rate of gross domestic product (GDP) at 2.5% ranks 121st in the world. (It was 120th last week but has just been beaten by The Congo.) The USA is one of only four countries with debt above 100% of GDP and still rising rapidly. The others are Mozambique, Bhutan, and Lebanon.

Bold new fake news strategy

Added to these tried and true deceits is a new approach, recently demonstrated to perfection by Fox News.

In the above clip, fake news specialist Stuart Varney makes several entirely false claims:

  • “Chalk up another win for the President. This year the U.S. will produce more oil than Saudi Arabia.”
  • “U.S, production – 10.4 million barrels a day – the best since 1970. That is energy dominance.”
  • “The Obama team had said no to oil. Oh, it’s a fossil fuel. Kills the planet. The Trump team reversed that and encouraged production.”
  • “The result is that America calls the shots on the world’s energy market.”
  • “Now we are the dominant energy power in the world. I call that a Trump win.”

The fakery here is reporting possible future outcomes as current realities — and assigning accolades in advance.

This “story” is based on an obscure January report by the International Energy Agency.

The key sentence is:

"We have raised our forecast for crude oil growth in 2018 from 870 kb/d to 1.1 mb/d. It is possible that very soon U.S. crude production could overtake that of Saudi Arabia and also rival Russia’s."

Note the words “forecast”, “possible”, “could” and “rival”.

The report’s general drift was actually pessimistic:

'The slowdown in 2018 demand growth is mainly due to the impact of higher oil prices, changing patterns of oil use in China, recent weakness in OECD demand and the switch to natural gas in several non-OECD countries.'

But the glimmer of hope that the U.S. oil industry might continue its Obama era surge and advance past Saudi Arabia was enough for an orgy of congratulations for … Obama? Hell, no! For Trump!

Yes, 10.4 million barrels a day is probable. But what Saudi Arabia and Russia will produce is unknowable. The U.S. is nowhere near “dominant” just yet. Hence no basis whatsoever for claiming “another win for the President”.

Where this report is particularly malicious, however, is in its denigration of the former President, Barack Obama.

Oil production was one of several boom sectors through the Obama years. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration

‘U.S. crude oil and petroleum product gross exports have more than doubled over the past six years, increasing from 2.4 million barrels per day in 2010 to 5.2 million b/d in 2016.’

Forbes Magazine noted the dramatic contrast between Obama and Bush:

‘President Bush, widely viewed as a Texas oil man, presided over eight straight years of declining U.S. crude oil production … President Obama – who is not viewed as a friend of the oil and gas industry – has presided over rising oil production in each of the seven years he has been in office.’

So far in 2017 and 2018, the trajectory established through the Obama years appears to be continuing, although we only have data up to November.

Hence the claim, "The Obama team had said no to oil …”, is a direct lie. So is, “the Trump team reversed that”. Yes, fracking was regulated by the Obama Administration, but never banned.

If a president achieves something quite extraordinarily good, then it’s fine for the media to assign credit. That’s fair and just. But if accolades are heaped on him for outcomes merely promised, then what pressure is there for those promises to be fulfilled?
Such is America’s doom.

You can follow Alan Austin on Twitter @AlanAustin001.

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