NPR Complains about ‘Way More’ Spending in Black Friday Sales, Neglects to Note they Declined Instead

  • NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly writes fluff piece for Black Friday sales, complaining about ‘consumerism’
  • Specifically says ‘always been a time when Americans buy more’ even though sales this year were down from last year
  • Even online sales were down, but since that likely hurts Biden, it’s completely ignored in the piece

OUR RATING: Major Negligence. MSNBC-level basic journalistic negligence

Indicted Outlet: Mary Louise Kelly, Elena Burnett, Courtney Dorning | National Public Radio | Link | Archive | 12/1/21

When the economy is bad under Democrats, as it often is for middle and lower class workers, the elected left-wing officials need a reliable propaganda arm to spin negative news. The news out of the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales holidays were negative, so we were feted to a heavily spun article from NPR that 

Major Violations:

  • Missing Context
  • Partisan
  • Superficial Investigation

Let’s just take this phrase, the central thesis of this interview piece, which was the first paragraph:

Cyber Monday and Black Friday are behind us for the year, but the holiday shopping season isn’t over just yet. It’s always been a time when Americans buy more, but nearly two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, and Americans are spending way more — outsize amounts of money on things.

Let’s summarize that into one sentence as: “Cyber Monday and Black Friday are days in which Americans spend way more money on things.”

As a literal statement, this could be argued to be true. These two days are more spendy than 363 other days of the year. 

But it’s also suggestive that this year, 2021’s Cyber Monday and Black Friday, were days where Americans spent ‘way more.’ That’s the implication left by the paragraph.

Did Americans spend more on these spending holidays?

No. There was a significant shortage of sales and offers to consumers during those two days. [1] Sales were down from the prior year. [2][3] Even online spending during black friday was down. [4

A variety of things seem to blame for this trend, some blame COVID, [5] some blame supply chain issues, [6] some blame a lack of workers [7] finding it more profitable to stay on unemployment rather than show up to work. [8

Those three causal reasons leave out the generalized fear of inflation creeping into the economy, [9] where consumers withdraw from spending as they see their actual purchasing power decrease, and stores withdraw on discounts and deals knowing they need more liquidity to weather pending inflation. 

So of those four reasons, none are included by NPR in their article. This is major missing context.

Instead, NPR focuses its article solely on why Americans are consumerist. So we could say it’s an “exploration of values.” 

Or said another way, it has the intellectual heft of a high school freshman’s sociology paper. 

But even giving them that charitable defense to their lack of relevant context, they should still note that perhaps those values are in flux because the current economic trends are that people are buying less than the year before.

The real background issue is that Biden’s poll numbers are bad, the lowest of his term so far. [10

The reasons for Biden’s bad poll numbers, as expressed by pollsters, neatly match the same reasons why sales are down for “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday.”

  1. COVID: Biden’s public trust to handle the COVID pandemic has “plummeted” [11
  2. Ongoing supply chain problems: Majorities blame Biden and Congress for supply chain problems. [12
  3. Unemployment: Majority disapprove of Biden’s handling of the economy. [13
  4. Inflation: Voters say the most pressing issue is inflation. [14

So it’s pretty conspicuous that, instead of talking about any of the actual sales numbers from Black Friday or Cyber Monday, we get a digression into consumerism. 

Instead of any facts or statistics, NPR delves into values, thoughts, and feelings with dime store history thrown in. Just the chart of the money supply as measured through “M1” would be a fascinating bit of context to add to the story, maybe that’s affecting consumerism? [15]

pictured: something relevant about money or something.

That’s a bit of a separate issue, though it’s also evident in the article: the simplistic left-wing memes that constitute their understanding of history. 

You can see these memes in their highlights. I’ve tried to summarize them for you, dear reader. 

NPR’s Interview Highlights distilled down:

  1. The Great Depression leads to government spending, and the war pulls America out of the depression, and then there’s a shift to consumer spending as a postwar strategy to keep the money flowing.
  2. The WW2 wartime economy leads to homes full of appliances.
  3. Markets make new markets.
  4. People don’t want consumerism and inequality but it’s hard to fix. 

Any one of these issues could be easily disputed or dissected, and they represent a very boring answer to the complexities of economics, history, politics, societies, and personalities. They are fundamentally reductive, as are all strong memes, and they represent the basic neoliberal line on America from 1930-1990. 

I am tempted to ding this article for its reliance on these tired memes, but they are not factually incorrect, they are just very superficial. That they represent a historian, who is presented as an authority figure, also gives room for this to be considered opinion even though the piece itself is not categorized as such. But these memes are offered without evidence to support the claims, and by creating false connections. They launder their left wing historical prejudices through the mouth of a professor, but it’s clear to any casual listener of NPR that this is the extent of things considered. 

OUR RATING: Major Negligence. MSNBC-level basic journalistic negligence


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