NY Times on President Brains: 'Careful Diagnosis' for Biden, Reckless with Trump

February 15th, 2024 10:32 PM

A gross double standard was on display in the New York Times regarding two presidents, Democrat Joe Biden and Republican Donald Trump, each facing accusations of being too old and having memory lapses.

Times reporter Gina Kolata recently defended President Biden, “Memory Loss Requires Careful Diagnosis, Scientists Say." The subhead continued: "A federal investigator said that President Biden had “poor memory” and “diminished faculties.” But such a diagnosis would require close medical assessment, experts said.” Expert Shopping is in! 

Republicans were quick to pounce, some calling the president unfit for office and demanding his removal.

But while the report disparaged Mr. Biden’s mental health, medical experts on Friday noted that its judgments were not based on science and that its methods bore no resemblance to those that doctors use to assess possible cognitive impairment.

The article continued:

Dr. Loewenstein said he was outraged by pundits “who would have the audacity to make diagnoses by saying, ‘Oh, this person went to the refrigerator and forgot why,’ or ‘Oh, they substituted somebody’s name for another name when they have other things on their mind.’”

Such concern and sensitivity were not, to put it mildly, the hallmark of how Donald Trump’s mental state was covered within the pages of the Times. A long, spicy, highly irresponsible run of letters to the editor from Ivy League psychiatrists (hat tip the invaluable account Defiant L’s) included this astonishing headline on the “letter to the editor” page of October 11, 2019: “Trump Is Mentally Unfit, No Exam Needed.”)

The letter page's subhead: “Three mental health professionals who contributed to ‘The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump’ cite recent actions that confirm their worries.”

The three shrinks harrumphed:

Our publications have been derided as violations of the Goldwater Rule, “armchair psychiatry” and political bias dressed up as professional opinions. But, as mental health professionals, we have felt a duty to address a public health crisis: a mentally unfit person in charge of the world’s most powerful military and its nuclear weapons. We have found ample evidence of his instability and grandiosity in the president’s own words and public statements, most recently confirmed in his referring to “my great and unmatched wisdom,” coupled with yet another threat to “totally destroy and obliterate” a foreign country.

Apparently the “close medical assessment” required of Biden wasn’t needed when it came to diagnosing President Donald Trump as mentally unfit. A nytimes.com search unearthed no less than nine published letters to the editor over a period of several years from contributors to that 2017 book (full title: The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President) and its 2019 sequel, many of which led that particular day’s letter section. 

Under the headline, “Psychiatrists Warn About Trump’s Mental State,” the book’s editor Bandy X. Lee (fired from Yale, perhaps for her political postings) wrote in November 2017:

We are currently witnessing more than his usual state of instability -- in fact, a pattern of decompensation: increasing loss of touch with reality, marked signs of volatility and unpredictable behavior, and an attraction to violence as a means of coping. These characteristics place our country and the world at extreme risk of danger.

On October 20, 2019, contributor Henry J. Friedman, under the heading “Is Trump a Pathological Narcissist?”  argued “The proper category would be ‘destructive dictator,’ because Mr. Trump, like Hitler and Stalin, has the personality of a grandiose-paranoid dictator who would destroy all he saw as his enemies….”

Not exactly the “careful diagnosis” the paper demanded before noting Biden’s obvious memory struggles.