White House

White House Has ‘Productive’ Conversations with News Outlets about Reframing Economic Coverage

President Biden delivers remarks at the White House in Washington, D.C., December 6, 2021. (Leah Millis/Reuters)

White House officials are pushing reporters to cover the economy with a more positive spin, and “conversations have been productive,” per Brian Stelter and Oliver Darcy’s newsletter at CNN.

Among those dispatched to change the tenor of coverage are National Economic Council Deputy Directors David Kamin and Bharat Ramamurti, as well as Ports Envoy John Porcari. Stelter and Darcy write that the “basic argument” being deployed by these officials is that the economy is improved compared to this time last year.

The officials have been discussing with newsrooms trends pertaining to job creation, economic growth, supply chains, and more. The basic argument that has been made: That the country’s economy is in much better shape than it was last year. I’m told the conversations have been productive, with anchors and reporters and producers getting to talk with the officials

While it appears White House officials are having some luck bringing newsrooms around, their surface-level view leaves out significant context. None of the coronavirus vaccines had been released at this time last year, and onerous economic restrictions remained the primary mitigation method for spread. It was also much closer to the initial onslaught of job losses brought about by the lockdown of the country in March 2020.

While the unemployment rate continues to drop, job growth has persistently underperformed expectations, and inflation has risen to its highest level in decades.

Economic struggles have helped keep President Joe Biden’s approval ratings shockingly low for this early point in his presidency. FiveThirtyEight’s polling average pegs Biden’s approval rating at just 42.8 percent, close to eight and a half points lower than the number of Americans that disapprove.

On Monday, Stelter promoted Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank’s contention that the media has been unduly harsh on the administrations. Milbank appeared on CNN to argue as much on Monday, and gathered an approving tweet from Stelter, who quoted him as saying “we see it as our job to be negative, to be adversarial. But there’s a real problem when we are being just as adversarial ‘cuz a guy didn’t pass a bill as we are when a guy is trying to overthrow democracy.”

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