Amanpour Demands Media Stop Treating Biden's Age Like Hillary's Emails

March 2nd, 2024 2:33 PM

CNN’s Christiane Amanpour welcomed the Columbia Journalism School’s Margaret Sullivan to the Saturday edition of The Amanpour Hour where the two condemned their media colleagues for allegedly focusing on President Joe Biden’s age to the exclusion of everything else. They also claimed it should be their “public service role” to not let Biden’s age turn into Hillary Clinton's emails or the Iraq War and correct those who are not in love with the Biden economy.

On Biden’s age, Amanpour wondered, “It's gone a bit viral, Democrats are in a bit of a tizzy about a lot of the reporting on it. But do you believe, just to get it clear, that age is a media invention?”



Sullivan insisted that “I do not think that age is a media invention,” but claimed “it's become the only topic at times.”

It is unclear what media Amanpour and Sullivan are reading because the idea that Biden’s age is the only topic of conversation is just wrong. CNN itself will frequently turn into Court TV when Donald Trump’s legal situation allows it, and there are constant denunciations of allegedly extremist Republicans.

Still, Amanpour worried that if Biden loses in November, it will be because her media colleagues hurt him:

Margaret, I wonder whether you look back and worry about certain other issues that are-- can be certainly in retrospect, very bothersome, and the media played a very negative role in terms of this herd mentality, whether it's the Hillary Clinton emails which turned out to be nothing, or whether indeed was the rush to war in 2002 to-- or 2003 to Iraq. Do you think that we should be worried? 

Sullivan saw a difference between a war and Biden’s age, but still condemned “that the press has a tendency to have a pack mentality or a herd mentality, as you put it… But it speaks to the tendency of the press to sort of all get on the same page and the difficulty and the rareness of journalists taking a different point of view or presenting things differently. We didn't see too much of that in any of those cases.”



After playing a clip of Biden on Late Night with Seth Meyers condemning Trump on abortion, Amanpour wondered, “So, Margaret, listening to that, it's delivered incredibly, you know, sharply. Why is it that then the media tends not to focus on performance and results, good or bad, and rather, this, whatever it is, the horse race, the stuff around the edges that we're talking about right now?”

The media constantly warns about what would happen if the GOP wins in November, but Sullivan still claimed “it's difficult to get the media to look at such things as what, you know, what have these candidates accomplished? What are they likely to do if elected or reelected? The substance is lacking?”

She would later add, “Make sure that we're getting the stakes of the race across to people. You know, people think that the economy was-- is not doing well. You know, do our public service mission, which is to make sure, as sure as we can, that we have an informed electorate. Whose fault is that? Well, it's partly the fault of the media and I think that that ought to be rectified.”

In the real world, viewers are constantly told how great the Biden economy is, they simply don't believe it.

Here is a transcript for the March 2 show:

CNN The Amanpour Hour


11:38 AM ET

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: The dogging you're saying is the press essentially.

MARGARET SULLIVAN: At least in part.

AMANPOUR: So, as you know, there's been quite a lot of exploration of this whole phenomenon. It's gone a bit viral, Democrats are in a bit of a tizzy about a lot of the reporting on it. But do you believe, just to get it clear, that age is a media invention?

SULLIVAN: No, absolutely not. I do not think that age is a media invention. It's a clear issue in the campaign. Biden's mental acuity and Trump's mental acuity certainly deserve to be taken and seriously, I just think it's gone-- it's become the only topic at times.

AMANPOUR: Margaret, I wonder whether you look back and worry about certain other issues that are-- can be certainly in retrospect, very bothersome, and the media played a very negative role in terms of this herd mentality whether it's the Hillary Clinton emails which turned out to be nothing, or whether indeed was the rush to war in 2002 to-- or 2003 to Iraq. 

Do you think that we should be worried? 

SULLIVAN: Well, I do think that the press has a tendency to have a pack mentality or a herd mentality, as you put it. And we saw that in all of those cases, the Hillary Clinton emails and the run-up to the Iraq War and now this age issue, I don't think that they're equal. I mean, I don't think we're in a situation that equals the, you know, essential invention of weapons of mass destruction. But it speaks to the tendency of the press to sort of all get on the same page and the difficulty and the rareness of journalists taking a different point of view or presenting things differently. We didn't see too much of that in any of those cases. 

AMANPOUR: So, Margaret, listening to that, it's delivered incredibly, you know, sharply. Why is it that then the media tends not to focus on performance and results, good or bad, and rather, this, whatever it is, the horse race, the stuff around the edges that we're talking about right now? 

SULLIVAN: Well, I wish I knew the answer to that. I only know that it is a reality that the press, the political press, tends to focus on the horse race. They concentrate on polls, they concentrate on the gaffe of the day, and it's difficult to get the media to look at such things as what, you know, what have these candidates accomplished? What are they likely to do if elected or reelected? The substance is lacking? 

AMANPOUR: Now, you called out this circular and destructive media logic. What would you say? Because you were ombudsman, you've had a very major position at major newspapers, including the New York Times, what would you say to the leaders of our mainstream news organizations when they see these kinds of stories all over their platforms. 

SULLIVAN: I think that the leaders of major American news organizations should have front and center in their minds and be communicating to their staffs that this is an extremely consequential election and we should be doing our public service role that it's not so much about chasing the latest clicks and the latest horse race coverage, but rather to make sure that we're getting the stakes of the race across to people. You know, people think that the economy was-- is not doing well. You know, do our public service mission, which is to make sure, as sure as we can, that we have an informed electorate.

Whose fault is that? Well, it's partly the fault of the media and I think that that ought to be rectified.