John Hinderaker at Power Line wrote "You can tell the Biden administration has badly bungled the infant formula situation when the best their shills at the Associated Press can do is play the 'Republicans pounce' card." Reporter Paul J. Weber penned a defensive story headlined “GOP’s new midterm attack: Blaming Biden for formula shortage.”
Weber's article began: "Republicans aiming to retake control of Congress have already sharpened a message centering around blaming Democrats for high inflation, expensive gas, migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border and violent crime in some cities." Conservative Twitter pounced on the summary tweet from AP:
Republicans aiming to retake control of Congress have blamed Democrats for high inflation, expensive gas, migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border and violent crime. Now, the baby formula shortage is becoming the GOP's latest attack on President Biden. https://t.co/fkT12bGRGq— AP Politics (@AP_Politics) May 14, 2022
Brad Slager cracked wise: "Why not blame it on another Republican filibuster, and get it over with?!?!" Weber laments Republicans spreading "tall tales" about baby formula being piled up for illegal immigrants in custody, and then repeats Jen Psaki says they're legally obligated to feed those babies. But somehow they're not legally obligated to keep immigration in check.
It's clear that a baby-formula shortage has occurred under Biden, but reporters find it scandalous that anyone would blame it on Biden.
Asked if his administration had responded as quickly as it should have, Biden said, ”If we’d been better mind readers, I guess we could’ve. But we moved as quickly as the problem became apparent.”
But the defense by the White House illustrates how finger-pointing at the Biden administration has already spread far and wide among Republicans in Washington, on television and on social media. It’s a new issue for the GOP to hammer at and a way to address families at a time when Democrats believe outrage over the U.S. Supreme Court possibly ending the right to an abortion could galvanize women and other key voters, and thwart or at least lessen a Republican wave in November.
There are Republicans quoted in the article, including Texas strategist Matt Mackowiak. But Weber's sympathy for the Democrats comes shining through:
Democrats are framing the shortage as an example of how Americans are harmed when a few big companies control the market. But like inflation or high gas prices, their challenge is explaining the contributing factors to the public.
Sen. Mark Kelly of Arizona, one of the most vulnerable Democrats up for reelection this year, said the supply chain problems with formula, microchips, gasoline and other products have complex roots, many that stretch back to the pandemic
This kind of badly disguised opinion piece is not a rarity at AP. In 2020, we noted then-AP reporter Jon Lemire mocking Trump for blame-shifting on COVID: "President Donald Trump is falling back on a familiar political strategy as he grapples with the coronavirus pandemic: deflect, deny and direct blame elsewhere....Trump himself owns up to no mistakes."
And Biden does?