Missouri mainstream media desperate to ignore bad news

Last week, in between stories of a looming second government shutdown, continuing exchanges of accusations concerning Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. elections, and the Nancy Pelosi DACA filibuster, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, a once great American daily newspaper, chose, instead, to headline, in lurid prose, the stock market decline as its lead piece on Tuesday, February 6.  The following day, the newspaper, ignoring the market rally, chose to trumpet the fact that a Democrat had defeated a Republican in a special election for a seat in the Missouri House of Representatives.

Concerning the stock market correction of last week, the P.D. headline of this news item was breathless, over-the-top, and even slightly taunting, as the paper informed its readers: "It [the market decline] also threatens to deprive President Donald Trump and the GOP of a favorite talking point at the nascent stages of the 2018 [midterm] campaign."  A rough translation of this line would read, "Bad economic news spells Republican electoral disaster, and boy, are we glad we have some bad news to peddle.  Let's make it sound as bad as possible!"

One would think he had traveled back in time to the good old days of October 1929, reading those headlines.  It is worth noting that the P.D. made little mention of the market having taken off like a rocket after the November 2016 GOP electoral win.  The paper did not mention in its stories that the most recent corrections before last Monday were the sharp downturns of 2016, 2012, and 2011, all of which took place while their beloved leader, President Obama, held the reins of power.  The paper barely noted the market rebound of Tuesday, or the fact that the Dow Jones averages are still up considerably for the current quarter, and the gains of 2017 are holding.  They put this information in one line on page A8 of the paper on Wednesday, knowing that few people read to page eight of daily newspapers anymore. 

In the matter of the so-called Democratic election victory, it is only a liberal daily newspaper that can spin a one-win and three-loss record as an election victory.  The P.D.'s triumphant tone continued for the remainder of the week, as a front-page headline on Thursday read, "Democrats Rejoice over Election Win; Republicans Are Rattled."  This must be understood in context.  Missouri has seen a conservative, largely Republican revival since the late 1990s.  The state, by tradition, has been purple, with the big cities voting solidly Democratic; small cities, suburbs, and exurbs voting Republican; and rural areas struggling between their Democratic roots and the growing realization that the Democrats, the party of modern liberalism, do not represent rural values.  This has led to a startling turnabout, as outstate Missouri is now a conservative Republican stronghold, and the state, while not yet fire engine red, has given up its old bellwether status. 

The Democratic victory on Tuesday came in a formerly blue county, in a close election, with the Democrat candidate eking out a win by a mere 108-vote margin.  The Cook Political Report called this result an outlier, "an extreme case" due to low turnout, and pointed out that this was a district that Trump won by fewer than ten points in 2016.  Still, the Post-Dispatch beat the drums for this electoral victory; ignored three bad losses; claimed that the state GOP is "rattled"; and, in an electoral analysis, notified readers that the area congressional races are tightening, if still largely favorable to the GOP.  All of this, if true, might be helpful to our great republic if it convinces the Democrats that they need to get back in step with the country and cautions the state Republicans into realizing that they cannot coast to victory but need to stand for something tangible. 

Now, in the end, what can we learn from this epistle?  We might read this as a cautionary tale that the stock market is not a get-rich-quick vehicle, and that financial speculations are better measured in trends of years, and even decades, than weeks and months.  It can also be seen as a piece discounting electoral victories of a momentary nature.  Flukes do take place in all fields, such as sports, weather, and even politics.  The main point of this column, though, is clear.  The mainstream media are no longer bewildered by their loss in 2016.  They are hopping mad, even fighting mad, and will say anything to get back into the saddle.  We can expect more of this type of slanted coverage, also called yellow journalism, while the big media desperately work to effect a restoration to return themselves and the likes of Hillary Clinton to power in 2020.