The Corner

Politics & Policy

Maybe the Tax-Reform Bill Is Unpopular Because Media Mislead Americans

It’s very clear that the tax bill passed by both the House and Senate yesterday evening is indisputably unpopular among Americans. But the reasons for that unpopularity are much less clear. Left-wing bias in the media likely has a lot to do with it.

According to a recent CNN poll, only 33 percent of Americans support the GOP bill, while 55 percent oppose it, a figure that has grown by ten points since early last month. Several other major polls have put approval ratings for the tax plan in the same low ballpark.

One obvious reason for this unpopularity is our almost equally unpopular president. Donald Trump’s approval rating hovers around 37 percent, unprecedentedly low for a president just a year into his first term. And because the tax-reform bill is a GOP initiative, it is inextricably tied to our GOP president, which means that Americans who dislike Trump are automatically inclined to dislike the GOP tax-reform effort.

But another crucial component of the bill’s stunning lack of popularity surely stems from the amount of misinformation floating around about the substance of the bill, perpetuated by biased media outlets. Just this morning, for example, the New York Times opinion newsletter called the bill “a huge handout to corporate America,” completely ignoring the fact that the bill will lower taxes for a shocking 80.4 percent of Americans, according to the left-leaning Tax Policy Center.

A couple of weeks ago, the NYT editorial board co-opted the Twitter account of its opinion page and spent an entire afternoon issuing tweets, urging readers to call their senators to protest the tax-reform bill. They even went so far as to include the office numbers for each senator, so readers could more easily petition their representatives. It was outright political lobbying, from an editorial board that has routinely denounced Citizens United and decried the supposed involvement of “dark money” in U.S. politics.

Aside from the hypocrisy of the Times’ board, this type of hysterical coverage corrupts and poisons the national conversation rather than informing and directing it. Of course, editorial boards are free to oppose any bill they choose, but if they do so without providing both sides of the story and without the substance to back up their views, it is difficult to take them seriously.

It’s not just the Times. When the House passed an initial iteration of the bill in the late afternoon on Tuesday, the Associated Press sent the following breaking-news tweet:

Of course, this assessment was factually accurate, but it, too, left out the crucial detail that the vast majority of Americans, business owners and average employees alike, will have smaller tax burdens under this plan. This tax bill surely isn’t perfect, but in many ways and for most people, it’ll likely prove to be an improvement on the status quo. Listening to our media, though, it’s no wonder Americans don’t believe it.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is Jonah Goldberg’s weekly “news”letter, the G-File. Subscribe here to get the G-File delivered to your inbox on Fridays. Dear Reader (But not Allegra Budenmayer, may she rot in Hell), Some of you may recall that my favorite essay by the late Tom Wolfe is “The Great ... Read More