As millions of Americans struggle with the economic implications of the Covid-19 pandemic, the congressional campaign arm of the Democratic Party is being ridiculed for tweeting out a misleading graphic thanking Joe Biden for a trivial drop in gas prices.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) on Thursday shared a line graph purporting to show a steady drop in gas prices. In fact, it indicated that prices have dropped by two cents from an unspecified starting point, falling from $3.40 to $3.38.
The chart’s Y axis ranges from $3.375 to $3.415, meaning the line’s descent is artificially steepened – and even then, it still hardly counts as a precipitous drop.
While the Biden administration is trumpeting its economic successes, in particular when it comes to employment figures, the US’ average gas price has increased to $3.38 from a monthly low of $1.99 in April last year.
However, the sharp rise can partly be attributed to a steady surge in demand for gas as people resume regular driving after a year of lockdowns and curtailed travel. The Biden administration this week ordered 50m barrels of oil released from America’s strategic oil reserve in an attempt to bring prices down.
The DCCC’s chart drew near-universal ridicule as soon as it was shared. While much of the criticism came from the usual right-wing suspects, among them far-right organiser Charlie Kirk and American Conservative Union chair Matt Schlapp, the party’s tweet was attacked across the political spectrum – as well as from mainstream journalists whom the right often caricature as Democratic shills.
The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler called the chart “utterly ridiculous” and “truly dumb”, while CNN’s Daniel Dale called it “parody-level misleading-with-axes stuff”. The Dispatch’s Jonah Goldberg, meanwhile, simply wrote: “I can’t believe this tweet is still up.”
While the DCCC was taking flak from across the spectrum, Senate Democrats were faring little better in their efforts to gin up support on social media.
After the official account shared a tweet shouting “ELECT DEMOCRATS TO PROTECT ABORTION RIGHTS!” – this as the Supreme Court considered a case that could mark the beginning of the end for Roe v. Wade – Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez weighed in with an all-caps message of her own: “END THE FILIBUSTER AND DO YOUR JOB”.
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