Krugman Reveals the Extent and Danger of Fake News Under President Trump


Presidents are supposed to come up with real policy that helps vast numbers of Americans. Donald Trump has so far shown a talent for generating fake news that helps himself and sometimes a few others. Paul Krugman dissects this disconnect in Friday's column by introducing some actual facts and numbers into the discussion. On any given day, 75,000 Americans lose their jobs, and that is under normal circumstances. "The U.S. economy is, after all, huge, employing 145 million people," Krugman writes. "It’s also ever-changing: Industries and companies rise and fall, and there are always losers as well as winners. The result is constant 'churn,' with many jobs disappearing even as still more new jobs are created. In an average month, there are 1.5 million “involuntary” job separations (as opposed to voluntary quits), or 75,000 per working day."

Krugman has an agenda for imparting this information: "To highlight the difference between real economic policy and the fake policy that has lately been taking up far too much attention in the news media."

As it currently stands, there is no sign that the president-elect understands the difference. Even more worrying, the mainstream media doesn't either.

An example of real policy is the Affordable Care Act, which is, of course, currently on the Republican chopping block, an act that would deprive 30 million poor and middle class families of healthcare. So, that's a kind of policy, in reverse.

The incoming administration’s incentive to engage in fake policy is obvious: It’s the natural counterpart to fake populism. Mr. Trump won overwhelming support from white working-class voters, who believed that he was on their side. Yet his real policy agenda, aside from the looming trade war, is standard-issue modern Republicanism: huge tax cuts for billionaires and savage cuts to public programs, including those essential to many Trump voters.

So what can Mr. Trump do to keep the scam going? The answer is, showy but trivial interventions that can be spun as saving a few jobs here or there. Substantively, this will never amount to more than a rounding error in a giant nation. But it may well work as a P.R. strategy, at least for a while.

Corporations wanting to curry favor with the new president have every incentive to play along with Trump's spin, so don't expect them to correct the record. Krugman even suggests that helping Trump get positive headlines is a de facto campaign contribution that may buy them favors.

It's not the fake news we need to be worried about. It's the supposed real stuff from the mainstream media.


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