The press ever-so-politely turns on Biden, as troubles mount
It was a horrible, no good, very bad Friday afternoon for President Biden as he headed out for a long weekend at the beach:
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rejected Biden’s COVID-19 booster shots for all Americans.
France recalled its ambassador to the U.S. after Team Biden snubbed our oldest ally in making a national security deal with the United Kingdom and Australia.
And a drone strike the administration claimed took out a key ISIS-K planner did no such thing; the Pentagon confirmed that 10 civilians were killed, including seven children.
As the seasons change, it’s safe to say Biden’s first summer as president went about as well as it has for the Baltimore Orioles (currently about 45 games out of first place in the American League East).
With multiple vaccines and more than 75 percent of the U.S. population receiving at least one dose, COVID-19 was supposed to be almost an afterthought at this point. Instead, the U.S. daily death toll approaches 2,000.
There were 3,415 new covid deaths reported in the United States today
— Mike Baker (@ByMikeBaker) September 17, 2021
Violent crime in American cities continues to outpace pre-pandemic numbers.
‘I can’t believe the numbers’: Mass shootings, homicide rates, gun sales hit highest levels since 1990shttps://t.co/pJ7GseUUzb
— Marlon A. Walker (@marlonawalker) September 5, 2021
Inflation continues to skyrocket, raising deep concerns among voters of all stripes. And voters overwhelmingly blame the guy in charge.
— New York Post (@nypost) August 12, 2021
The southern border is a full-blown humanitarian crisis, with more than 200,000 apprehensions in August, bringing the total for the year to 1.5 million. Even former Obama-era Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson says his former department, Border Patrol and ICE are overwhelmed by the surge.
“We have to get control of our borders — 200,000 a month is a lot of people. …It overwhelms the ability of DHS, the Border Patrol, ICE, to cope with the incoming. It saps the communities on the border.” — Fmr DHS Sec Jeh Johnson on situation at southern border. pic.twitter.com/hZFzPU9f83
— Ana Cabrera (@AnaCabrera) September 17, 2021
Afghanistan, from drone strikes killing civilians to Americans still trapped in the Taliban-controlled country, is an unmitigated disaster.
Biden approval down to 42% overall, lower on Afghanistan withdrawal, latest poll finds. https://t.co/NYPiM02gEX
— KSAN News (@ksannews) September 17, 2021
It’s come to the point where the administration’s performance on major issues can’t be ignored. It would be like trying to defend the performance of the New York Jets, which simply cannot be done in any positive way. But what’s missing in Biden’s case is the piousness, the hostility, that we saw so often from the media during the last president’s term.
“Do you regret at all, all the lying you’ve done?” former President Trump was once asked at a press conference.
“Do you regret at all, all the lying you’ve done?”: A reporter’s blunt question to Trump goes unanswered https://t.co/tv4M99CO8e
— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) August 14, 2020
Fair question. But would that ever be posed to Biden after he’s been caught lying? Of course not.
Biden gets ***FOUR PINOCCHIOS*** (a WHOPPER) for his false claims that the new Georgia law ‘ends voting hours early’ https://t.co/FvYLswSSKS
— Mark J. Perry (@Mark_J_Perry) April 2, 2021
A few examples of the kid-glove treatment Biden has received from the press, even when things are going as badly as they have been recently, is perfectly encapsulated by this tweet from Associated Press White House correspondent Jonathan Lemire.
The Pentagon admitted its errant drone strike. COVID boosters did not get full approval. France recalled its ambassador
The punishing headlines, all within an hour, underscored the perils for a president from uncontrollable events that can define a term https://t.co/Vjnakmdvr2
— Jonathan Lemire (@JonLemire) September 18, 2021
“The Pentagon admitted its errant drone strike. COVID boosters did not get full approval. France recalled its ambassador. The punishing headlines, all within an hour, underscored the perils for a president from uncontrollable events that can define a term,” Lemire, a news reporter, wrote.
Ah yes, “uncontrollable events.”
Guess that drone missile fired itself at a car in that strike that killed the ten civilians. Uncontrollable events also forced the president to talk about vaccine boosters well ahead of his own FDA. For a president who repeatedly insisted we follow the science and listen to the doctors, his decision to talk boosters before the doctors conducted their research was anything but uncontrollable.
And it was the Biden State Department led by Secretary of State Antony Blinken that blindsided France and cost it billions of dollars by opting to work with Australia on a lucrative submarine deal.
But Biden is a victim of circumstances, according to the AP reporter. Not unlike natural disasters or a black cat crossing your path, these events were simply forces of nature. Bad karma.
It’s almost pointless to try to imagine what kind of press treatment any Republican would receive under similar circumstances. We’ve seen that movie one too many times.
And then there’s the most insidious bias of all: the bias of omission.
The conservative Media Research Center (MRC) recently dove into this issue as it pertains to the border crisis, which has become so bad that Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas recently visited Del Rio, Texas, to talk to leaders there while observing conditions on the ground. Mayorkas still insists the situation is only a “challenge,” kind of like losing weight over the holidays.
— Spencer Brown (@itsSpencerBrown) September 20, 2021
In August, as those 208,000 migrants were encountered at the border, broadcast evening news coverage of the crisis totaled just 6 minutes, 28 seconds on all three networks, according to the MRC.
Combined. Over a 31-day period.
On ABC’s “World News Tonight,” the country’s top-rated newscast (averaging close to 8 million viewers each night), the story didn’t get one second of coverage. Overall, coverage is down 94 percent from earlier this year despite the numbers only getting worse.
This couldn’t be better news for the president, who has yet to visit Texas or Arizona border towns and has almost never mentions it much outside of praising his vice president for doing a “great job.”
And when criticism has come on this issue, let’s just say it’s not exactly what one would call an epic takedown.
“We can talk about the border problems, you could say they’re years in the making,” “Meet the Press” moderator Chuck Todd recently said on NBC. “But it’s pretty clear that we have a bigger problem now than we’ve had in years, and these policies have turned it into becoming a magnet.”
Compare that to Todd’s tone in 2019, when migrant children and conditions at the border were invoked in an interview with Trump. Nothing about Trump inheriting a problem years in the making, either.
WATCH: Trump says administration doing a “fantastic job’ on the border.
Chuck Todd: “Why let the political debate hurt these children?”
President Trump: “If the Democrats would change the asylum laws … everything would be solved immediately. But they refuse” pic.twitter.com/fU1EeDbQW0
— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) June 23, 2019
— New York Post (@nypost) June 25, 2021
Biden is finally getting criticism from the political press, at least as it pertains to the stories they actually cover.
But, fortunately for him, it’s just about the most delicate criticism one could hope for.
Joe Concha is a media and politics columnist for The Hill.