The Infrastructure Bill Is Joe Biden's 'Shovel-Ready Jobs' Moment

AP Photo/Susan Walsh

President Joe Biden’s former boss, then-president-elect Barack Obama, appeared on Meet The Press and declared that his goal was an infrastructure overhaul that would create “shovel-ready jobs” amid the recession America faced. As the Washington Post pointed out later, the phrase appeared to be pretty much new (they discovered its origin might have been based on Hillary Clinton’s previous statements regarding “shovel-ready jobs” for upstate New York), but it took off.

Everyone was saying it and praising Obama for such a brilliant messaging move. The media didn’t just discuss the talking point, they celebrated it.

One year and an $800 billion dollar infrastructure plan later, those shovel-ready jobs never happened. Asked about it by the New York Times, Obama admitted he now understood there’s really no such thing. “The problem is that spending it out takes a long time, because there’s really nothing – there’s no such thing as shovel-ready projects,” he told them ahead of the 2010 midterms. At that time, Obama was expecting Democrats to win or Republicans to maybe get lucky.

We know how that turned out.

At a public event, he actually said “‘Shovel-ready’ was not as ‘shovel-ready’ as we expected.” And it was met with a chuckle on the stage and among the media. Just a shrug and an “Oh well!” and that was the response to (yet another) of his promises turning out to be a lie.

Now, Joe Biden is celebrating the passage of a bipartisan infrastructure bill, and one that he says will kickstart the economy and fix major issues in our infrastructure system immediately. But we already know that won’t be the case because that relies again on “shovel-ready jobs” at a time when employment is sluggish and there are supply chain and transportation issues. What’s worse is that all of these projects will be burdened by environmental regulations championed by the Democratic Party for decades (ironically, had Joe Biden not undone a lot of the regulatory rollback Donald Trump had put in place via executive order, this may not be the case).

Biden
AP Photo/Susan Walsh

None of the jobs or projects will get underway in a timely manner, but once again, the media will not care all that much. Biden got something passed, and it’s cemented into his legacy. That was the goal. That’s what they want.

Yesterday, CNN suspended Chris Cuomo indefinitely. It was a move that should have come months earlier, but they waited until they had no choice. A friend of mine on the left reached out via Twitter after the texts detailing Cuomo’s involvement with his brother’s team came out. “It’s journalistic disgrace,” he said. “I’m actually surprised I haven’t seen much else on it ever, other than from you. Meaning the left wasn’t covering it.”

There is a reason that the media acts like this, and it goes beyond “They are leftist partisan hacks.” There is a reason they didn’t want to touch any of this. It’s all because these people know who butters their bread.

News executives, account managers, and editors know that the goal in journalism isn’t journalism. The goal is to do it in a way that gets eyes on the advertisements of the people who pay them big bucks to get their ads on television and in print. As I mentioned yesterday, when Jeff Zucker came to CNN, he brought with him a background in the entertainment industry. That brought a new set of eyes to the audience and helped the network grow. But a lot of Zucker’s audience-building was aimed at people who are naturally more progressive. To keep them, the programming had to get more progressive.

So, you see a lot of programming changes to fit that. Chris Cuomo and Don Lemon become prime-time events on CNN. The more straight-news guys (even as left-leaning as they were) get more marginalized. CNN allowed Cuomo to entertain audiences with the Cuomo brothers instead of asking Andrew Cuomo tough questions. Zucker pushed for the network to stand more opposed to Trump. Yes, a lot of the reporters were more than happy to do so because of their political leanings, but by that point, CNN’s primary audience was so left-leaning that they were more than happy to upset conservatives rather than dare to chase off liberals.

The other networks and the major newspapers are the same way. They understand that while journalism (however they see it) is what they do, how they do it is more closely tied to what keeps the advertisers with them (which is also why the left loves attacking companies that advertise on right-leaning outlets).

The reason reporters are more than happy to agree to this is that they are not only left-leaning themselves but because they love access more than anything. They fought so hard in the 1990s and 2000s to remain in the Clinton circles because the Clintons were superstars to them. They wanted access to the Obama White House. They were more than happy to give disgruntled Bush and Trump staffers (especially the latter) a platform if it meant they could continue to get inside access to the White House.

For them, it’s not about journalism. If it were, they wouldn’t be worshipping the Democrats like they do. They wouldn’t be trying to build up new superstars. Real journalism isn’t about giving someone like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez unbalanced coverage. It’s about reporting actual stories, and covering her every “controversial” and “brave” statement isn’t news. It’s all fodder for hagiographical puff pieces and nothing else.

You won’t find out about Biden’s infrastructure promises being empty until well after the fact, because the news outlets don’t want to run off their audiences (any more than they already have) and reporters don’t want to lose that sweet, sweet access in Washington they’ve been getting.