As Noam Chomsky elucidated so eloquently in his landmark novel Manufacturing Consent (1988), the U.S. media complex claims to exist in a dichotomy of “liberal” and “conservative* factions—and yet this is far from the case. How so? All mainstream media outlets in this country operate on this confluence of motives: perpetuating the current system, protecting their benefactors, perpetuating the myth that we’re polarized (despite almost everyone being center-right or far-right relative to the rest of the world) in order to divide everyone into the two powerful camps, and fixating on identity politics to project an archetype of what it means to be a “liberal.” They paint this modern “liberal” as one who merely dwells upon optics & cancel culture. It’s a straw man used by right-wing economic apologists—e.g. all U.S. mainstream media—to strip the actual left wing of any voice. (Besides, the ”social justice warriors” whom many believe are the left are anything but that; they are reactionary multicultural fascists who obsess over petty rhetoric and obstruct progress by deflecting from the more consequential issues.)

Again, all mainstream media in this country is right-wing on economic issues—and the clandestine overlords working the scenes at the likes of CNN and MSNBC have unilaterally stolen the voices of all of the true economic leftists. We have no say, and we will not enjoy one anytime soon because the GOP has cleverly spent so much time oppressing minorities and galvanizing the outcries of those with (valid) concerns about the right’s social policies to the point where, as manifested in the 2016 election, the popular force that was ostensibly against Trump barraged social media about his racism, homophobia, sexism, etc. But that’s it; that’s all they talked about. And those of us opposing Trump not only due to his character but also his policies had no platform.

As a result of these types of covert schemes, the right controls narratives about the economy, and its proponents have convinced the majority of Americans to believing the ludicrous notion that the GOP (of all factions) has viable economic policies and is fiscally responsible. The Republican Party is neither of those things, though. And its economic policies are remarkably bad. But, as introduced earlier, because the media tug-of-war between Fox News and CNN is just a “battle” between conservative economic policies and neoliberal economic policies, everyone wins and nobody wins. All media outlets win; meanwhile, humanity loses because we’re stuck with one option. So again, the media is a battle of outlets that back the same economic policies—hence they must delude the public to promulgate an unfounded idea that a healthy ideological variety exists.

Quite frankly, the economy hasn’t changed at all in the last ten years (insofar as one could reasonably characterize any continuous trend of growth as a fixed datum). So what have the last three presidents done to ameliorate the economy that “fiscal conservatives” crashed in 2008? Do presidents even deserve much credit for recoveries? And how is the media industrial-complex so good at disseminating baseless lies to the point where 99% of the public has no idea how the economy is doing at any given time? The answer is hidden in plain sight: a lucid, sinister truth we’ve collectively ignored for generations.

Obviously, there is neither a single measure nor an amalgamation of measures that can pinpoint the state of something as byzantine as our massive economy, yet I dare readers who believe anything has changed from Obama to Trump to Biden (barring the economic fallout of the Covid-19 crisis, an unavoidable phenomenon that has less to do with policy itself, compared to how policy and practice shape the economy in normal times) to name a single major metric by which the economy has truly changed since Obama. Fine, you can say that consumer confidence has fluctuated as a result of well-disseminated lies. Still, this has nothing to do with actual policies. When it comes to other economic metrics, little has transformed since Obama. We’ve faced a bull market for about a decade in which the economy has maintained shockingly similar slopes of continuous growth—we’re talking GDP, the stock market, unemployment, debt, trade, deficits, etc. Look at these charts!

(Click on any photo to see the full size.)

Of course, a few select charts could never comprehensively round each base of all of the components that go into economic performance, but be my guest if you have doubts. We’re simply stuck in the cycle of an economy that is rigged for the top .1% (which controls the stock market and assets and salaries and severances, plus these .1% plutocrats find ways to elect politicians who give them—not the lower & middle classes—lopsided tax cuts while also letting them contravene tax code to pay taxes at a lower rate than those in lower tax brackets). Indeed, economic growth as a whole is myopic because it’s only indicative of the wealth of the ultra-rich. So, this broken system is the fault of the right (i.e. all Republicans and many Democrats, particularly ever since the Clinton administration allowed commercial and investment banks to merge in the 90s). And when the economy crashes, it’s often due to right-wing policies: deregulation, condoning corporate vanity, etc.

And while it is true that presidents have far less of an impact on the overall economy than you’d think, every policy does formulate tangible, large-scale implications. Plus, when such policies are rooted in corruption and antiquated ideals pushed by the corporate “masters of mankind,” they just have to pay off the media & the parties and find a way to masquerade dangerous levels of deregulation. This may sound contrived, but it’s all about the money. And especially since right-wing think tanks and political action groups spawned like wildfire in the late 70s and early-to-mid 80s in response to the changing infrastructure of class mobility engendered by the civil rights movement, the rich—who feared that they would begin to relinquish the tight grip they’d wielded over the poor—have moved to consolidate power & wealth.

Still, as far as presidents do influence the economy, the economic brainwashing of the mainstream media—which understandably prefers economic conservatives in power due to the way such politicians tend to prioritize the wealth of those powerful enough to control the media over the wealth of everyone else—is ironic given that the economy tends to perform better under Democrat presidents (and has for a long time). We can talk about how evident this has proved between the GOP and DNC since the 1920s, but let’s discuss the manifestation of this in the last 10 years. But remember: what you’re about to read is not some arbitrary retroactive analysis. This is a recollection of something that was evident then, something I and countless others have tracked for over a decade.

The short answer is that, while Obama did a solid job and Biden has done a mediocre job, Trump did a terrible job. His economic policies were awful in far more ways than we could possibly begin to address (the main & rudimentary metrics aside), and this was no surprise given that he never promised a viable economic platform in the first place: from the start of his campaign to the end of the presidency. All he did was hyper-fixate on a few relatively frivolous matters (like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, something he repealed simply to replace it with a nearly identical deal he could take credit for) and ride off the ubiquitous—yet baseless—delusion that he’d simply do well because he’s a businessman. It was a brilliant tactic. Yet, in reality, Manhattan billionaires are the last people on Earth we should elect to office; doing so only eliminates the barrier between politicians and the rich forces that corrupt them by instead placing power directly into the rich, who have spent decades mastering how to disguise selfish acts as altruism.

Meanwhile, the Obama & Biden economies have outperformed the Trump economy even by most metrics that were used to arbitrarily call the Trump economy unprecedented. Likewise, everything that was at an “all-time high” under Trump was also at an all-time high throughout Obama’s second term—and continues to hit all-time highs under Biden, which substantiates why the media is deluding people. All that changes is the economic measures by which the media (and thus social media as well as public and private arenas everywhere) focuses on.

Throughout Obama’s eight years as president, all the right-wing media talked about was the government’s nominal public debt (which was skyrocketing because of the crashing of the Bush economy and the many trillions of dollars blown on the unsolicited wars of the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld military-industrial complex). Very few talked about the indisputable fact that—from March 5th, 2013 onward (just a month and a half into Obama’s second term)—the stock market began what continues to prove a historic run of breaking its own all-time high record over and over again (thousands of times) in the last nine years. Then, when Trump took office, Republicans and their media suddenly began to gasconade about the Dow Jones hitting these all-time highs, just like it managed across the four Obama years leading up to Trump’s four years.

The same goes for other metrics that continued reaching record rates as a natural ramification of our decade-long bull market. So, as expected, the aforementioned Trump narrative immediately evaporated once Biden took office, with the mass media eradicating its perpetual feedback loop under Trump of unilaterally obsessing over stock market and unemployment records (things Trump had nothing to do with—barring the despicable fact that Trump used his puppet Fed chair, Jerome Powell, to pump tens of trillions of dollars into the big banks to artificially create selfish, short-term embellishments of these stock market “record” numbers—despite the fact that we had already recovered from the economy that Republicans and the Greenspan crowd crashed in 2008, as well as despite the fact that they knew that such actions would engender devastating inflation once the reckless monetary policy caught up to us a few years later—a cute ancillary gambit that has since been exploited to blame Trump inflation on Biden).

At the end of the day, the iconic maxim that “You are entitled to your own opinions, but you’re not entitled to your own facts” proves apt as this expanse of problems continues to transpire; Trump and Biden are united in that neither ever really cared about actually helping everyday Americans. Regardless, you can try to use antagonistic rhetoric to deny that our government gained nearly as much debt under four years of Trump than it did under eight years of Obama. You can try to deny that consumer confidence was the only thing Trump did for the economy that was beneficial for the public—and that the stock market highs and unemployment lows under him were no different than those of Clinton, Obama, and Biden. You can try to deny that today’s inflation is due to a combination of policies that came before Biden & Covid-19. And so on.

But don’t do it. Aside from the reality that you would be objectively wrong, it would mean that you are waving the white flag to the media—that you are openly allowing it to contort, deceive, and obfuscate your understanding of what is actually happening right now in the United States. Yet I believe in you; I believe in us. We just need to learn how to do our own objective research, outsource the information we seek in an unadulterated way, and utilize the intellectual curiosities with which we’re endowed to seek the truth. There is much more to be said about the infrastructure of how one can follow these steps, but we’ll save that for later. Until then, consider freeing yourself from all media and—rather than deciding which media to follow—finding ways to keep up with the world without a complex that is grounded in reactionary sensationalism.

-Luke Atkins


Note: Luke is Alyson’s partner, and he wrote this guest post with intentions like those of Alyson: to inform the public of profound problems that the media fails to elucidate. He is studying Government and History at Harvard University these days.