Mainstream Media vs. Main Street USA
The treatment of recent news reveals an important chasm in 2018 America: the concerns of Mainstream Media vs. those of Main Street USA. In many ways, this divide represents a sort of tale of two cities. The first “city” of Washington-New York media elites explodes over every headline, including endless rumors regarding Russia and White House staff intrigue. In contrast, the second “city” of non-politically obsessed everyday Americans focuses on bread-and-butter issues that actually matter to their everyday lives.
For example, during the second week of August, according to a study from left-leaning Media Matters, MSNBC spent almost 16 hours of total airtime discussing disgruntled and discredited former White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman. For comparison, the channel spent a total of 45 minutes discussing immigration issues and 39 minutes on the upcoming Supreme Court confirmation process of Judge Brett Kavanaugh.
Moreover, contrast that concentration on innuendo and scandal with the actual issues of concern to most Americans. In a recent Gallup survey about the 2018 midterm elections, the number one “problem facing the country today” is immigration/illegal aliens. The second most important issue is, unsurprisingly, the economy. Matters pertaining to Russia, incidentally, earned a literal asterisk in the Gallup report, meaning below 0.5 percent of respondents.
In fact, far from New York newsrooms and the Georgetown salons of Washington lobbyists, Americans grasp the reality of a stronger and more prosperous country. For example, CNBC reports that total American home equity just hit an all-time high of $5.8 trillion of total net value. The average homeowner with a mortgage saw accessible equity grow $14,700 over the last year and now has $113,900 available to draw upon.
But, the even better news lies in the details. Unlike the 2007-era housing price boom, consumers are managing their debt prudently today and middle-class families do not feel pressed to use homes as ATMs just to pay bills. For example, despite the prodigious appreciation in home equity, only 1.17 percent of available equity was tapped in the first quarter of 2018, the lowest amount in four years.
This housing optimism reflects the strong underlying growth of the Trump Boom, which registered 4.1 percent GDP growth for the second quarter, with the Atlanta Federal Reserve’s live statistical model now forecasting a 4.3 percent rate for quarter three. Within that overall heady expansion, small business in particular is thriving amid reduced federal tax and regulatory burdens. A recent survey by the National Federation of Independent Business registered a Small Business Optimism Index at 107.9, the highest level in over four decades and just shy of the all-time record at 108.0. Not only is growth faster, it is also broader, meaning the rising economic tide finally and truly lifts all boats, not just the already-successful. For example, Black Enterprise magazine reports that since 2017, America saw an astounding 400 percent increase in the number of black-owned businesses. In addition, the same survey showed the majority of black small-business owners have not completed a bachelor’s degree, meaning business opportunities and the attendant prospects of economic self-sufficiency are available now to all Americans and no longer just the privileged.
Sadly, I do not expect that the mainstream media will start to report on these marked improvements for Main Street America. Economic vitality and entrepreneurial dynamism, especially among minorities, don’t fit neatly into the media’s pre-packaged narrative of a racist commander-in-chief beholden to the Kremlin. Nevertheless, while opposition advocates in the White House briefing room masquerade as journalists, hardworking Americans throughout flyover country live and know a very different reality of an optimistic, growing, and resurgent America under the leadership of President Donald J. Trump.