The Media

Yeah, Biden is old. He walks slow. He has a speech impediment. He moves too fast in answering lies and ignorance. etc. Due to all of this, we ignore the stench in the room call trump. And you all appear to believe trump is eligible to be the president despite his past actions and his planned future actions? You are ok with this and Biden has to go? And why is the media afraid of trump?

Opinion Piece: Margaret Sullivan at The Guardian, “The media has been breathlessly attacking Biden. What about Trump?

It is possible for two conflicting ideas to be true at once.

And so it is with the mainstream media’s unrelenting focus on Joe Biden’s mental acuity, following his terrible debate performance earlier this month.

First truth: the president’s stumble and the political fallout that followed is a huge, consequential news story that deserves a lot of coverage.

Second truth: the media coverage is overkill – not only too much in quantity and too breathless in tone, but also taking up so much oxygen that a story even more important is shoved to the back burner.

Of course, the bigger and wholly ignored story, of course, is the former president’s appalling unfitness for office, not only because he tried to overturn a legitimate election and is a felon, out on bail and awaiting sentencing, but because of things he has said and done in very recent weeks. As just one example, he claimed that he doesn’t know anything about Project 2025, the radical rightwing plan hatched by some of his closest allies to begin dismantling our democracy if he wins another term.

Trump’s disavowal is a ridiculous lie, but I doubt most members of the public know anything about it, nor do they likely know much – if anything – about Project 2025.

But anyone following mainstream media coverage could not miss knowing about the latest polls on whether Biden should step aside, how Kamala Harris would fare in a head-to-head competition with Trump, and which members of Congress have called for a new Democratic nominee.

And those are just the news stories – not to mention the nonstop punditry on cable news and the near takeover of the opinion sections of major publications.

Meanwhile, what of Trump’s obvious cognitive decline, his endless lies, his shocking plans to imprison his political enemies and to deport millions of people he calls “animals”, his relationship with the late accused sex-trafficker Jeffrey Epstein?

“Sure, you can say, we’ve covered those things,” commented Norman Ornstein, emeritus scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a longtime observer of media and politics. But, Ornstein pushed back: “Where? On the front page above the fold? As one-offs before moving on? In a fashion comparable to the Defcon 1 coverage of Biden’s age and acuity?”

There really is no comparison in the amount or intensity of coverage. One journalist, Jennifer Schulze, counted New York Times stories related to Biden’s age in the week following the debate; she counted a staggering 192 news and opinion pieces, compared to 92 stories on Trump – and that was in a week when the US supreme court had ruled he has immunity for official acts.

Nor is there much self-scrutiny or effort to course-correct. Only self-satisfaction and an apparent commitment to more of the same.

Erik Wemple of the Washington Post queried the Times about any pushback, specifically from the White House. “Have you gotten any complaints about age coverage since the debate?” Wemple asked top Times editor Joe Kahn, who recently praised the paper’s coverage in a note to staff. Kahn said no.

He also dismissed as “factually wrong” the criticism from former Times editor Jill Abramson that the Times “failed in the first duty of journalism: to hold power accountable” because reporters didn’t break through what she described as an enormous White House cover-up of Biden’s mental and physical decline. Kahn also brushed off criticism on social media from the left and the right.

Thanks Ten Bears . . .