It is discouraging how little the average American knows about the gold and silver markets, since much of the press is so fixated with the Trump/Russia connection, to the exclusion of almost everything else. The average American couldn’t possibly know that gold is up over 325% since the dawn of the year 2000 vs. only 67% gains for the most widely-watched stock market index, the S&P 500. Lately, the business news continues to center on record-highs for the stock market indexes vs. generally negative coverage on gold.
One of the advantages of living and working in Beaumont, Texas, is that I can monitor several local and national newspapers each day. I like to contrast the editorial coverage of the relatively small cities of Beaumont (population: 118,000) and Lake Charles, Louisiana (72,000) vs. Houston (with a population of 2.1 million, the fourth largest city in America). Each day, I compare news coverage in the Lake Charles American Press, the Beaumont Enterprise and the Houston Chronicle, plus other major national papers.
In the past, I’ve shown how rural newspapers tend to present a more balanced view of national events. One specific barometer I watch is the political leaning of their editorial-page cartoons. I’ve found the Lake Charles and Beaumont opinion pages to be balanced, while the Houston Chronicle is one-sided in promoting the Democratic anti-Trump viewpoint, which also dominates much of the mainstream national press.
Last Thursday, for instance, the Lake Charles paper featured an editorial, “Business Friendly Policies Put People to Work,” in which it ran down the details of a surprisingly strong job market in the first few months under Donald Trump. The June employment report, released July 7, showed a payroll increase of 222,000 jobs, not counting farm workers. The unemployment rate remains historically low, at 4.4%. The editorial covered job increases in several industries and quoted Secretary of Labor R. Alexander Acosta as saying, “This month’s robust job creation … is unleashing the economic power of the American people.”
You won’t see these kinds of statistics or upbeat commentary featured in many mainstream newspapers or TV reports. The Houston Chronicle, like most urban news organizations, is obsessed with the latest allegations of any Trump team member’s possible meeting with any Russian at any time during 2016 or since. For instance, the Houston Chronicle’s July 14 editorial on “Political Values” lauded Al Gore’s political values – some 17 years ago – but failed to mention Hillary Clinton’s ethical lapse last year, when her campaign manager John Podesta improperly received CNN debate questions from Donna Brazile prior to the debate and failed to disclose that fact. CNN’s Jake Tapper called Donna’s actions “unethical”, “horrifying” and “very, very troubling,” yet she went on to become Democratic National Chair and is now on “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.”
Two years ago, I respected Donna Brazile and was the largest sponsor of a YWCA dinner where she was our keynote speaker. After her campaign shenanigans last year, however, Chuck Todd of Meet the Press told me that her actions probably cost Hillary some votes from Bernie Sanders supporters. Even though Hillary Clinton was the presumed winner before the election, the press coverage on this ethical lapse was very “soft.”
Gold gained $22 last week (+1.3%) and silver rose a greater percent (+3.7%) as both metals recovered from the “flash crash” of July 6, when silver penetrated its technical support level based on an extremely large after-hours trade. Part of the reason for the rapid recovery is that the rate of inflation has slowed in last week’s announcement of the Consumer Price Index and other inflation measures, indicating that the Fed will mostly likely not raise interest rates when they meet next week (July 25-26). Other economic data, like retail sales, are also down a bit in recent months, to the point that Fed Chair Janet Yellen chose to tell the U.S. Congress last week that “considerable uncertainty always attends the economic outlook.”
The National Media is Currently Obsessed with the Trump/Russia Connection
In discussion with many friends, customers and business associates throughout America, I can tell you that hardly anyone is concerned about minor meetings with minor officials in Russia, yet this is almost the only news on the air or in major urban newspapers. Over the weekend, I watched “Meet the Press” and three other network talk shows and saw about 80% of their time was consumed with Trump/Russia.
A study released by the conservative Media Research Council (MRC) last week showed that the Big 3 (ABC, CBS and NBC) evening news shows in the previous four nights were almost totally consumed with the Trump/Russia connection, in which no favors, money or meaningful information was exchanged. In four nights last week, the Big Three networks spent 62 minutes and 18 seconds on Donald Trump, which is more than 20 times than what they devoted to the Russia scandals of Hillary Clinton in 2015.
In case you’ve forgotten the details of that scandal, author Peter Schweizer, in his 2015 book, “Clinton Cash,” showed how a Canadian uranium company, seeking approval of a sale to the Russian government from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, donated millions to the Clinton Foundation for access to Russia.
There was also little or no major national coverage on Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO), who vigorously denied ever calling or meeting with a Russian official and then had to recant when she was shown her own tweets. (She made this gaffe in reference to confirmation of Attorney General-designate Jeff Sessions in March.)
Last month, three CNN reporters had to be fired because of creating fake news about Trump. But CNN didn’t learn from their mistakes. Another study by MRC showed that a three-hour CNN news program “New Day” last week spent 93% of its air time on Donald Trump, Jr. and his supposed collusion with Russia. By contrast, healthcare coverage (mostly negative) amounted to 5.5% of total air time, then a small nod to baseball (1.5%). Historically, CNN and other media spent virtually no time covering the alleged collusion between Bill Clinton and Red China in Clinton’s 1996 campaign, or the gaffe by Barack Obama in March 2012 when he told Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (the top man in Russia at the time, equivalent to Vladimir Putin today) that he would be “more flexible” with Russia over missile controls “after the election” (in 2012). Medvedev responded, “I will transmit that information to Vladimir (Putin).” Do you recall the media spending 93% of their air time on that event – even though it was on camera with a “hot” microphone – indisputable truth, not allegations about low-level officials?
The Russia/Trump news deserves a few minutes’ coverage each night, but not so much that it blocks out all the positive steps being taken by the Trump team to kick-start the economy and help most Americans become better off in their jobs and secure against terrorist attacks and criminals. How about a little “fair and balanced” news coverage from CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, as well as America’s big-city newspapers?