By Laurel Duggan
Mainstream media outlets are pushing the narrative that the economy is running smoothly under President Joe Biden, mimicking his Thursday morning statement that the economy is still resilient.
The U.S. economy contracted 1.4% in the first quarter of 2021, the first time the economy has shrunk since the beginning of the pandemic. Media outlets padded their stories about the economic nosedive with reassurances about strong consumer spending and continued investment, closely aligning with comments made by Biden.
“The American economy — powered by working families — continues to be resilient in the face of historic challenges,” Biden said in a Thursday statement. “Last quarter, consumer spending, business investment, and residential investment increased at strong rates.”
A New York Times article suggested the economy was actually performing well in 2022, and blamed the slowdown on COVID-19.
“Strong consumer spending and continued business investment suggested that the recovery remained resilient,” the article said. “Most important, consumer spending, the engine of the U.S. economy, grew 0.7 percent in the first quarter despite the Omicron wave of the coronavirus, which restrained spending on restaurants, travel and similar services in January.”
“The U.S. economy shrank in the first quarter, but the numbers may mask the recovery’s resilience,” the NYT wrote on Twitter Thursday.
NPR told readers not to be concerned by the shrinking economy.
“News of skyrocketing inflation has many worried about the U.S. economy, but the fears may be unfounded. Consumers continue to spend freely, and businesses are still investing, even though the Commerce Department is expected to report little or no growth in the nation’s gross domestic product for the first three months of this year,” NPR wrote in its Thursday newsletter.
The Washington Post hedged the bad economic news with reassurances that the economy is still on the right track.
“The slowdown — the first since the covid recession back in April 2020 — marks a reversal from the torrid pace that followed intense fiscal and monetary stimulus in the wake of the pandemic,” The Washington Post article said, adding that “most economists still believe the expansion has plenty of momentum, particularly given the strength of the job market.”
The Los Angeles Times also emphasized continued consumer spending to reassure readers that the economy would bounce back, and blamed the recent economic contraction on issues with exports and inventory at stores.
“The steady spending suggested that the economy could keep expanding this year even though the Federal Reserve plans to raise rates aggressively to fight the inflation surge,” read a Thursday article in The Los Angeles Times titled “U.S. economy shrank by 1.4% in first quarter but consumers kept spending.”
“The first quarter’s growth was hampered mainly by a slower restocking of goods in stores and warehouses and by a sharp drop in exports,” the article explained.