Tuesday Edition: Media Shenanigans

Plus: Gen X is the most pro-Trump age group.

1. Weird Stuff Happening in Media

A growing number of sites run by political operatives are passing themselves off as legitimate journalistic outlets. (Semafor)

The latest: Star Spangled Media, backed by the law firm of prominent Democratic lawyer Marc Elias, runs left-leaning sites like the Morning Mirror, and has spent money on paid ads to boost stories favorable to Dems.

  • The local media network is facing scrutiny from Arizona regulators, who are weighing whether it should be subject to campaign finance disclosures.

Semafor media editor Max Tani puts it into perspective:

Democratic consultants — represented by a law firm that does much of the legal work for Democrats’ House, Senate, and state legislative committees — are running a website with positive stories about Democratic candidates in an election year, and using paid ads to boost those stories.

Reporter Lachlan Markay with a blunter take:

Related: Democrats and Republicans have backed similar operations in recent years.

  • Courier Newsroom, a growing partisan outlet, is open about its ties to the Democratic Party and funding sources (such as billionaire Dem donors Reid Hoffman and George Soros).

  • A 2019 Snopes investigation revealed Star News Digital Media — run by conservative activists linked to Republican PACs — operated local news sites in battleground states without disclosing its partisan ties.

  • In 2018, then-House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes launched an alternative news site set up to look like a local media outlet.

  • Metric Media, a network of 1,200 local news sites, received significant funding from conservative organizations, such as DonorsTrust.

Perspective: A 2024 NewsGuard report found there are now 1,197 "pink slime" sites — partisan news outlets masquerading as legitimate local news — in the U.S.

  • According to NewsGuard, there are about 1,200 real local news sites in the country.

  • Pink slime sites have nearly tripled since 2019.

Bubba’s Two Cents

We’re living in an information society, and if I’m running a political party, candidate or organization, the first thing I would do is make sure the media we’re putting into the world is representative of what we want audiences to know. Why would I rely upon the traditional media to gate keep news? It’s not like they do a great job according to audiences. Donald Trump is a great example of circumventing the press and going straight to social media, whether you like his message or not is a different story. But unlike these groups, I would not dupe people with an about page that says, “Welcome to the Morning Mirror—where reliability meets fresh insight. Stay informed with us as we deliver on the matters that impact your life,” while feeding them a glorified ad. As Lachlan noted, that’s “incredibly cynical.”

Treating audiences poorly hasn’t and won’t work.

2. Don’t Forget About Health Care Costs

Immigration and the economy often overshadow other voter concerns, but health care is also a giant issue for Americans. (Brookings Institution)

Where we’re at: Health care is the number one expense Americans worry about in 2024, even more than gas, food, and rent, per a recent KFF tracking poll.

  • Nearly 75% of adults in the KFF poll are concerned about unexpected medical bills and health costs.

  • According to a Pew Research Center poll from May, 57% of voters rank health care as a top priority, making it the third most important issue.

Where we’ve been: Over the past few decades, health care costs have risen much faster than the overall prices of goods and services.

The U.S. spends a lot more on health care per capita than its peer nations.

And yet, our health outcomes tend to be worse than those of similarly economically developed countries.

November: President Biden narrowly edges Donald Trump (39% to 34%) when it comes to who voters most trust on health care, according to an ABC News/Ipsos poll.

3. Generation Trump

Generation X, with its reputation for rebelliousness and slacker-ism, has quietly turned into one of Donald Trump’s most solid voting blocs. (Washington Examiner)

A recent New York Times/Siena College poll: Trump leads Biden by 19 points among Gen X voters (ages 45-65).

It’s a stark contrast to the other age demographics:

  • Age 18-29: +6 for Biden

  • Age 30-44: +5 for Biden

  • Age 65+: +2 for Biden

How did the “MTV Generation” become so pro-Trump? In a new essay Washington Examiner columnist Tim Carney argues, “Gen X isn’t all that Trumpy but that it has very good real-world reasons to support the Republican Party over Biden’s Democratic Party.”


Gen Xers got jobs, paid off student loans, got married in their 20s, and had children. This isn’t just a story. It’s the facts. The average age at first marriage in the early 2000s was about 25 for women and a bit higher for men — meaning the average Gen Xer was married with a job within a decade of leaving school. … If you want a normal life of family, community, and work, you are more likely to be Republican, and the folks most likely to be parents are the most likely to desire normality.

Related: Trump has a well-deserved rep for saying outrageous things, but he’s been making efforts to broaden his appeal and adopt pragmatic positions on policy.

  • The latest example: Trump’s influence led the Republican National Committee to soften its stance on abortion and tone down the social conservatism in its new platform.

  • Journalist Josh Barro on Trump’s newfound moderation: “There is one presidential campaign that’s being ruthless about raising its odds of winning and it’s not the Biden campaign.”

Bubba’s Two Cents

Gen Xers aren’t “MAGA” in the conventional sense. They've swapped their youthful idealism for a different perspective that comes with age and being a parent. My suspicion is that a lot of these people mostly want to be left alone and are wary of the government that’s anything but efficient. Also, turning to the GOP as the pragmatic choice says a lot about how badly the Democratic Party fumbled the ball.

4. The Politics of Teachers Unions

The National Education Association, America's largest teachers union, is facing a revolt from its own members. (WSJ)

What happened: Ahead of the NEA’s annual convention on Friday, the NEA Staff Organization (Neaso) accused the union of stopping holiday overtime pay and outsourcing $50 million in work without proper communication.

  • Neaso president Robin McLean told the Wall Street Journal the union threatened to host its convention virtually to avoid picket lines from disgruntled members.

  • Amid the turmoil, President Biden canceled his scheduled appearance at the convention.

  • Meanwhile, progressive members are pressing the union on political issues like the Israel-Gaza conflict.

The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board:

The NEA, with some three million members, is a political power that like many unions is straying these days into other left-wing causes. … It’s certainly amusing to see the well-paid bosses at the NEA called out by the rank-and-file for collective-bargaining abuses. NEA president Becky Pringle’s pay last year was $495,787, according to Americans for Fair Treatment. Upstanding teachers may learn something about their bosses’ priorities from the labor standoff.

Related: According to campaign finance watchdog OpenSecrets, since 1990, 94% of teachers union donations have gone to Democrats.

Bubba’s Two Cents

Teachers unions sometimes frame their critics as being anti-teacher or anti-education. But I think in most cases it’s that people don’t like how the unions have gotten beyond their original purpose of supporting teachers and making public schools better. Unions these days seem to chase power for power's sake. The NEA's shameful politicking and infighting don't exactly inspire confidence that the welfare of public school kids is their top priority.

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