On election night, as the markets began to fall with the news that Donald Trump had defeated Hillary Clinton, New York Times columnist and Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman stated that that the financial markets would never recover. Krugman said that “we are very probably looking at a global recession, with no end in sight.” Yet a week after he said that, the markets rose to record highs. And not even a full year into Trump’s term, the Dow Jones had climbed to 24,000.
Krugman’s prediction proved about as accurate as guessing that the lead actress in a Hallmark Christmas movie wouldn’t find love. But even more interesting than the Trump rally was the market’s recent fall. After ABC News reported that Donald Trump had told Michael Flynn to reach out to Russia as a candidate, the market quickly dropped 350 points . This news would have changed the calculus on the Russia story, perhaps indicating that Trump had urged his campaign to collude with Russia. Unsurprisingly, the report turned out to be fake news. The conversations had actually taken place after Trump had won the election – this was contact that everyone already knew about and that Obama’s State Department approved of. In the aftermath of the misreporting, ABC suspended one of its reporter and Trump urged investors to sue the organization.
The ABC News tweet had spread like wildfire because the left was so desperate to have their fantasy validated. What mattered was not what Flynn had plead to, but what the media could paint it as. There were bold headlines, op-eds, and screaming talking heads celebrating the news that Michael Flynn had plead guilty to lying to the FBI. But lost in the hoopla was any reporting on what Flynn had actually admitted to – even though the court documents were freely available and very, very short. Hundreds of columnists gave their “ten takeaways” from the pleading, but the media rarely reported Flynn’s actual admissions – which were not only less than 3 pages, but even generously double spaced as if they were written by lazy college student trying to make the page requirement for a term paper.
So despite the nonstop Flynn analysis, the media failed mention what Flynn actually did – because his conversations were not only not scandalous, they were uncharacteristically responsible for the Trump administration. The main topic was to ask Russia not to escalate sanctions on the United States (Obama had just slapped sanctions on Russia). But the media wanted its viewers to think that Flynn was caught trying to collude with Russia. The fact that he was trying not to escalate a dispute with a nuclear power doesn’t fit their narrative.
That the media wanted its viewers to remain uninformed is not noteworthy. But the more curious aspect of the Flynn fake news was the fact that it caused the markets to drop so sharply.
Donald Trump is not without his faults. He is often petty, abrasive, and unpredictable. We all google “where is the nearest bomb shelter” every time he tweets at “rocket man.”
But if the resistance truly saw Trump as the existentialist threat to our existence that they pretend, why do investors fear an America without him? Liberals have money too. In fact, people who make more than $200,000 voted for Hillary. Manhattan, the center of finance, voted for Clinton at a rate of more than 8 to 1. Why are these people not buying up stock if the person they think is a fascist is going to be impeached? Especially if stocks are functionally on sale? When Bane took over Gotham City, I find it hard to imagine that their was a huge stock market rally.
The answer of course is that despite the news reports, tweets, and Facebook posts, most people do not actually believe the political hysteria that they promote. They actually do know that Trump is not an evil villain. They don’t really believe that a Trump presidency is the end of democracy. It’s just pretend when they say that the White House is occupied by a coalition of Russian mobsters and white supremacists.
It turns out that people are willing to put on a social media show for the resistance. However, very few, if any, are willing to put their money where their tweets are.