The Great Urban vs. Rural Press Divide – about Trump and Gold

Mike Fuljenz, July 20, 2017

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 citiesof 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.” 

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?



Rural America’s Red Wall: Democratic 2018 Midterm Plans Just Took Another Hit

Matt Vespa, July 18, 2017

For the die-hard Trump supporter, polls don’t account for much, especially when the media drools over the president’s historic low approval ratings. Given the state of the Democratic Party, the lack of good quality candidates, and the absence of a message, it seemed as if anything could happen concerning the 2018 midterms. NBC News is reporting that in rural America, specifically the counties that helped Trump clinch victory over Hillary Clinton in 2016, his approval rating is at 50 percent:

President Donald Trump's job approval rating in the American counties that fueled his 2016 victory stands at 50 percent, according to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll of these "Trump counties."
Fifty percent of adults in these counties — consisting of Republicans, Democrats and independents — approve of the president's job performance (including 29 percent who strongly approve), while 46 percent disapprove (including 35 percent who do so strongly).
The poll's sample was taken from 439 counties in 16 states — Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin — that either flipped from Barack Obama to Trump, or where Trump greatly outpaced Mitt Romney's performance in 2012.

This is yet another instance in which a bucket of cold water was thrown on Democratic 2018 hopes. They’re focused on 23-24 districts that split for Hillary Clinton, but also a Republican House member. That’s fine, but there are at least a dozen Democratic districts that Trump won last year. The Democratic obstacles to their 2018 plans is being met with skepticism from everyone, including MSNBC’s Morning Joe who noticed the lack of a Democratic farm system for candidate recruitment. Then, The New York Times threw more wet blankets on the 2018 takeover hype, with the Georgia special election in its sixth congressional district, where Republican Karen Handel beat Democrat Jon Ossoff in the most expensive House race in history. Democratic turnout was the highest in a decade in the district, but it wasn’t enough to win. Second, this was a Republican district, though one not all that enthused with Trump; he won it by only a point. Hence, why Democrats thought this could be a test run for flipping other similar districts. It failed. So, while the Left can pat themselves on the back for doing better than ever before in these traditionally Republican districts, they’re still losers. Nate Cohn warned that the 2018 cycle could end up being an electorate that mirrors the 2016 election, which benefitted Republicans. The biggest punch to the gut for Democrats was Third Way’s analysis of the midterms, where they said, “Democrats still would not win the House even if they could get every single 2016 Clinton voter who backed a Republican House candidate to turn out again in 2018 and cross over.” That’s from a left-leaning think tank. Talk about not only being handed a wet towel, but being slapped with it.

If Democrats want to retake the House, they need to reach out to Trump voters, which is a key to their comeback, but something that is also never going to happen.

Addendum: Forgot to add that while the surge counties, where Trump really ran up the score on Clinton, is good for Trump—he’s not looking all that good in the flip counties. Nevertheless, as Guy and Leah noted, Trump’s problems seem to rest with his character and personality, not the issues. He’s polling well with handling the economy. This could make for a very nuanced map, though if Democrats can't field solid candidates that can run on a message across the board, we shouldn't be shocked if the GOP majority survives next year.

Editors Corner

As Locust grows we still have our detractors down at city hall biting their finger nails and whining about how are we going to manage our infrastructure IE, sewer system? Once upon a time some twenty years ago when I served on city council we had the same whining detractors screaming “The Sky is Falling.” Well it didn't fall and Locust continues to grow. I for one have never backed down from the doom and gloom prophets and I'm not about to start now. I had a conversation this past weekend with one of our council members who doesn't know how we are going to accommodate our coming growth. The sewer plant at Oakboro can't handle all this growth coming he said, well the last time I checked Stanly County owns the sewer plant and if it needs more up fitting to meet the Locust needs the county will find away to make it happen. He pointed out the increase of school age children and how Locust Elementary will not be able to handle them. The last time I checked Stanly County had lost pupils and were closing schools. The best thing that can happen is an increase pupil attendance. We sit with Ridgecrest Elementary school closed and fairly new school. I'm sure the school board would love to have it opened again and getting a return on their investment. I quite frankly think we need to rethink about who represent us on the Locust City Council. This is no time to preach doom and gloom and ring ones hands over growth. We have enough examples of other towns that have zero growth and boarded up store fronts and really have reasons to worry how their town is going to survive.