Scapegoat in the Storm: The Media’s Unjust Blame Game

Alex Greenwood
4 min readJul 3, 2023

In the contemporary American media landscape, two powerful phenomena, negativity bias and dwindling attention spans, collide to create a tempest that shapes our perceptions and reactions to world events. Often, these phenomena unjustly lay blame on our leaders for issues beyond their control.

For instance, when egg, gas, and rent prices spike — developments that have little to do with presidential actions — the media spotlight often falls on the Oval Office. Conversely, when there are positive economic developments, these often fail to garner similar attention.

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

It’s crucial to scrutinize the American media’s intricate dance with negativity bias and our progressively shortening attention spans. The swirling tempest of these two phenomena shapes public opinion, often unjustly laying blame at the feet of leaders for issues beyond their control. The media’s treatment of fluctuating egg, gas, and rent prices — areas over which the President has little to no influence — illustrates this propensity all too clearly.

Negativity Bias

Negativity bias, an evolutionary leftover from our need to prioritize threats for survival, colors our modern news consumption habits. This bias prompts news outlets to disproportionately report negative news, under the principle “if it bleeds, it leads.” Think of stories about soaring gas prices or skyrocketing rent in major cities; these issues, undeniably painful for the average citizen, often dominate news cycles, resulting in a distorted perception of reality steeped in negativity.

Gas, Eggs & Rent

Let’s take a deeper look at these examples. The President, contrary to popular belief, does not have direct control over the cost of gas. Market forces, including supply and demand dynamics, global events, and decisions by oil-producing countries, primarily drive gas prices. Similarly, egg prices depend on a complex web of factors including feed costs, weather conditions, and disease outbreaks among poultry. Rent prices are governed by local supply and demand conditions, zoning laws, and sometimes rent control policies — aspects generally outside the purview of the Oval Office.

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Alex Greenwood

PR Consultant, Speaker, Podcast Producer/Host, Editor, and Award-Winning Writer of the John Pilate Mystery Series. Accomplished belly laugher.