No single industry was happier to see the government release Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) data Monday than the media. While there wasn’t any sort of significant media bailout, journalists successfully turned the news of the program into profitable clicks of their own.
Newsweek: ‘Religious Organizations Receive $7.3 Billion in PPP Loans, Megachurches Amass Millions’
Forbes: ‘Vocal Opponents Of Federal Spending Took PPP Loans, Including Ayn Rand Institute, Grover Norquist Group’
Associated Press: ‘Kanye West? The Girl Scouts? Hedge funds? All got PPP loans’
Deadline: ‘Who Got PPP Loans? List Shows Hollywood Talent Agencies, Law Firms, AFI And Kanye West’s Clothing Brand Among Recipients Of COVID-19 Relief’
Chicago Tribune: ‘Kanye West’s Yeezy, Jim Henson Co. got federal PPP loans’
In a stunning turn of events, it turns out that businesses you disagree with and businesses owned by wealthy individuals still have to find ways to pay their employees amid a pandemic. Yes, even Kanye West.
To be fair, the media has been fighting hard and well to ensure the Small Business Administration (SBA) is completely transparent in its handling of the PPP loans. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin originally announced that the department would release data before the holiday weekend, which didn’t happen. But after facing significant pressure, they released the data Monday.
The media was then surprised to find that many businesses tied to political figures such as Jared Kushner, Rep. Devin Nunes, and other elected officials received loans. But a deeper look into the data shows doesn’t show any partisan agenda from the SBA. Planned Parenthood, Media Matters, and other leftist organizations received a number of loans as well.
Protecting jobs shouldn’t be controversial. After forced government shutdowns around the country, these businesses, regardless of political affiliation, are owed reparations to help protect their workers. The SBA has made clear that the loans are only forgivable if used to maintain staff. Cutting employment or salaries will require the business to pay back the loan. Journalists should focus their attention on ensuring these standards are properly enforced rather than attacking loan recipients.
Still, there’s much outrage concerning loans being given to more prominent businesses despite the program being designed for smaller, local businesses. But this narrative hardly holds any weight, as the data shows PPP loans supported 84 percent of small business employees around the country — 51 million jobs total. Not to mention, roughly $130 billion of the $670 billion program remains unspent. So unless some breakthrough shows small businesses being denied necessary funding to pay their employees, the media hysteria over the government giving money to law firms, hedge funds, and celebrity or politician-owned companies is nothing but that — hysteria.
And this frenzy isn’t unique to one specific media sector. Both liberal and conservative outlets have punchy headlines nitpicking companies they despise receiving government money. Even sports media is covering PPP loans.
There’s plenty of better stories to focus on during a pandemic than shaming businesses given loans for the benefit of their employees — especially after the government extended the PPP application deadline into August. After this outrage-centered news cycle, it’s not hard to imagine businesses deciding to lay off some employees rather than order a loan with a side of media shaming.