The Washington Post just gave a MasterClass on how to use framing and selective editing to craft a narrative in favor of their preferred politicians. Hint: It’s not Republicans.
In a report headlined, “White House, GOP face heat after hotel and restaurant chains helped run small business program dry,” the story is immediately set up to focus on how the Trump administration and the Republican Party are ultimately on the hook for all the bad things being reported.
The premise of the article is that Republicans who crafted the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program messed up by allowing major hotel and restaurant chains to receive cash from the initial $350 billion fund.
Only after 19 paragraphs explaining how corporate chains like Ruth’s Chris and Shake Shack received millions of dollars from the PPP does reporter Jonathan O’Connell mention that almost 75 percent of all PPP loans were under $150,000, meaning they went to the “smallest of small businesses,” as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said. At the very bottom of O’Connell’s 1,800-word story, he slips another small piece of information that undermines its entire premise: “Spending on hotels and restaurants accounts for less than 10 percent of the total money funds dispersed so far, according to the SBA.”
Well that’s odd. So the entire premise of the story accounts for less than 10% of the fund? So maybe businesses were shut out because the fund was popular? Read on you will find 74% of loans were for under $150k
— Josh Holmes (@HolmesJosh) April 21, 2020
But it wasn’t enough just to blame Republicans for providing cash to hotels and restaurants, the first and hardest-hit companies, which also include individual franchise owners. And it wasn’t enough to selectively leave out that the CARES Act, which provided these funds, was passed unanimously by both Republicans and Democrats. The narrative had to be completely reversed, even if it meant erasing how Democrats have actively held up billions in more funds as they watched the PPP run dry.
Nowhere in the story are the recent actions by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi or other Democratic leaders, or the widespread pushback against them, mentioned. As Republicans and moderate Democrats begged for a clean bill to be passed to help more small businesses immediately, Pelosi and other Democrats insisted on waiting to tie any replenishment of funds to their own priorities, such as funding states, local governments, and hospitals (some not even COVID-19-related). Pelosi, who has been at the center of this controversy for weeks and is even on record claiming there’s “no data as to why we need it,” is not even once mentioned in the story about drowning small businesses.
But the cherry on top of this masterful display of media bias is not just the exclusion of Democrats dragging their feet and denying more small business relief, but a plot twist that Democrats are actually the ones now asking for more funds.
According to the Washington Post, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and his fellow “D’s” are here to straighten out this mess they definitely didn’t create in the first place. On Friday, they wrote a letter “asking that PPP be replenished,” O’Connell reports, so no need to mention that it was congressional Republicans who had been trying the entire week prior to get another $250 billion to replenish the same funds. Next time, the Washington Post should just ask Schumer if he wants to write the story himself.