ABC, CBS and NBC Bury Bumbling Biden's Most Embarrassing Moments

When the Big Three (ABC, CBS, NBC) networks preview Vice President Joe Biden’s 2012 Democratic National Convention speech, will they fill their programs with a montage of the mental mistakes that have plagued him over the years? If recent coverage is any indication, they will choose to bypass Biden’s bumbling.

While the Big Three networks were quick to make fun of GOP vice presidential selections in the past from Dan Quayle to Sarah Palin for their campaign trail stumbles, they’ve either downplayed or completely ignored Biden’s most embarrassing and offensive moments. From insensitively telling a wheelchair-bound state senator to “Stand up!” to not recognizing how many letters there are in the word “jobs,” the media have let Biden get away with gaffes that would have gotten GOP VP picks pilloried. (Video compilation after the jump)

The following is just a sampling of Biden’s bloopers over the years and the type of coverage they’ve received from the Big Three networks on their evening (ABC’s World News, CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News) morning (ABC’s Good Morning America, CBS’s The Early Show/This Morning, NBC’s Today) and Sunday roundtable shows (ABC’s This Week, CBS’s Face the Nation, NBC’s Meet the Press).

 

The GOP Wants to Put Y’all Back in Chains!

 

 

On August 14, 2012 Vice President Joe Biden made a racially charged smear, in front of a predominately black audience, when he ranted: “Look at what they [Republicans] value, and look at their budget. And look what they’re proposing. [Romney] said in the first 100 days, he’s going to let the big banks write their own rules -- unchain Wall Street. They’re going to put y’all back in chains.”

There was very little coverage on the Big Three networks of this offensive remark (especially when compared to the furor over the GOP Senate candidate Todd Akin’s imbroglio.) Only CBS News noticed the racial ramifications of Biden’s statement.

Coverage on the Big Three networks that week:

3 full stories
9 mentions in segments that included other topics.

 

Biden Doesn’t Know What State He’s In...

 

 

In the same speech, in which he made his infamous “chains” remark, the Vice President was apparently clueless about which crucial swing state audience he was addressing as he urged the Danville, Virginia crowd that “With you, we can win North Carolina again!” Only ABC’s David Muir, in previewing a soundbite of GOP Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan making fun of Biden’s geographical error, made mention of Biden’s error on the August 17, 2012 Good Morning America.

Coverage on the Big Three networks that week:

1 mention
0 full stories

 

...Or What Century He’s In

 

 

When he delivered his infamous “chains” speech not only did Biden forget what state he was in, he also forgot what century it was: “Once again, General Motors [is] the largest automobile maker in the world. Folks, where’s it written we cannot lead the world in the 20th century in making automobiles? I’ve not seen it written anywhere.”

Coverage on the Big Three networks that week:

0 stories
0 mentions

 

BFD

 

 

During the ObamaCare signing ceremony on March 23, 2010 Biden was caught using a vulgarity when he congratulated President Barack Obama as he exclaimed: “This is a big f****** deal!” While the networks did cover this gaffe, they did it in a joking manner, essentially laughing it off in way that let the Vice President off the hook for his embarrassing behavior. On the March 24, 2010 edition of Good Morning America, ABC’s Bill Weir cheekily teased viewers: “Joe Biden gives us another gem.” Later, ABC’s  Juju Chang gave Biden a free pass as she determined: “But I think a lot of people are giving Joe Biden some slack on this.” Her colleague Robin Roberts added: “He’s been known to kind of let things fly a little bit.”

NBC’s Ann Curry, on the March 24, 2010 Today, seemed to excuse Biden’s profanity on him just merely being caught up in the moment: “One person who could barely contain his excitement was Vice President Joe Biden. In fact, he used some very colorful language as he was congratulating President Obama.” The harshest criticism came from an anti-cursing crusading teenager who was critical of Biden’s language. He was featured in just two storied aired on ABC and CBS.

Coverage on the Big Three networks that week:

13 mentions in segments that included other topics.
4 full stories devoted just to Biden’s BFD gaffe.

 

Oops, She's Not Dead Yet

 

 

On March 17, 2010 the Vice President mistakenly told Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen that his mother had died, when in fact, she was still alive: “His mom lived in Long Island for ten years or so. God rest her soul. And - although, she’s -- wait -- your mom’s still - your mom’s still alive. Your dad passed. God bless her soul.”

Coverage on the Big Three networks that week:

0 stories
0 mentions


Jobs is a Three Letter Word

 

 

The liberal media howled at Dan Quayle when he misspelled the word potato, however when Biden, on October 15, 2008, couldn’t properly count up how many letters made up the word “jobs” no one on the Big Three networks batted an eye: “Look, John’s [McCain] last-minute economic plan does nothing to tackle the number-one job facing the middle class, and it happens to be, as Barack says, a three-letter word: jobs. J-O-B-S, jobs.”

Coverage on the Big Three networks that week:

0 stories
0 mentions

 

FDR’s Famous Fireside Chats on the TV?

 

 

During an interview with Katie Couric, aired on the September 22, 2008 CBS Evening News, Biden inaccurately claimed President Franklin Roosevelt was in office when the stock market crashed in 1929 and also appeared on TV at a time when TV’s weren’t yet prevalent.

“When the stock market crashed, Franklin D. Roosevelt got on the television and didn’t just talk about the, you know, the princes of greed. He said, ‘Look, here’s what happened.”

Couric never bothered to correct Biden in the interview and never pointed it out in subsequent broadcasts. Biden’s anachronistic gaffe was also completely ignored by ABC. Only NBC’s Brian Williams, on the September 23, 2008 Nightly News, noticed Biden’s foible.  

Coverage on the Big Three networks that week:
    
1 mention in a September 23, 2008 NBC Nightly News brief story by Williams.

 

Biden Telling a Disabled Man to 'Stand Up!' Ignored...

 

 

On September 12, 2008 Biden clumsily and insensitively told wheel-chair bound Missouri State Senator Chuck Graham to get up from his seat:

“I’m also told that, that Chuck Graham, state senator is here. Chuck? Stand up Chuck! Let ‘em see ya! Oh! God love ya. What am I talking about? I’ll tell you what, you're making everybody else stand up, old pal. Thank you very, very much. I’ll tell you what, stand up for Chuck! Thank you, pal. You can tell I’m new. Good to see you buddy.”

Coverage on the Big Three networks that week:

0 stories
0 mentions

 

...But Tina Fey Mocking Sarah Palin Celebrated


While the networks refused to cover Biden’s comically painful moment they did have fun at Sarah Palin’s expense. In the same week of Biden’s “Stand up!” stumble, ABC, CBS and NBC all devoted time to replaying Tina Fey making fun of Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live (SNL). Kate Snow’s gleeful introduction of the clip, on the September 14, 2008 edition of Good Morning America, was typical in tone: “She’s certainly the subject of a lot of satire right now, David. I don’t know if you saw Saturday Night Live last night, but Tina Fey made a comeback. Let’s take a look.”

Coverage on the Big Three networks that week:

13 mentions, all accompanied by SNL video clip.

 

Articulate, Bright, Clean Obama

 

 

Biden’s “chains” remark wasn’t the first time the Vice President made a racially charged statement. On January 31, 2007, well before he was tagged to be his running mate, Biden attempted to pay Obama a compliment and ended up insulting black Americans in the process: “I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that's a storybook, man.”

This is one of the few Biden gaffes that got some play on the Big Three networks. However, it should be noted Biden’s “clean and bright and clean” outburst came at the start of the Democratic primary, long before there was any vested interest in protecting the man who would find his way on to the national ticket.

Coverage on the Big Three networks that week:

12 full stories
1 mention

 

7-11 Slur

 

 

African-Americans weren’t the only group Biden has slurred, as back on June 17, 2006 in a clip aired on C-SPAN he mocked those of Indian descent: “You cannot go to a 7-11 or a Dunkin’ Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent....I’m not joking.”

Coverage on the Big Three networks that week:

0 stories
0 mentions

The double-standard is clear. Whenever GOP vice presidential candidates like Dan Quayle or Sarah Palin made the occasional misstep on the campaign trail the liberal media were there ready to pounce and claim that those mistakes were a sign of someone unfit to be Vice President. But when the Vice President is a Democrat, like Joe Biden, they either ignore the gaffes or just merely shrug them off.

Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens is the Deputy Research Director at the Media Research Center.