Column: Democrats Expect a Promotional Press Corps

September 6th, 2023 8:09 AM

When they engage with the national media, Republicans expect that the exchanges will be skeptical, if not openly hostile. The press works for the Other Party. Democrats expect the media to be the wind beneath their wings, and get upset when journalists don't help them at every turn. 

This was underlined on NBC's "Meet the Press," when host Chuck Todd interviewed liberal author Franklin Foer about his new inside-the-White-House book on Biden. Todd read this quote: "Biden considered his poor approval rating a failing of the media, which somehow neglected to note all the ways in which his administration was superior to Trump's." 

There it is! Biden expected the media to not simply be his publicists, but his magicians. Somehow, his complete incompetence on the border or on inflation or his botched withdrawal from Afghanistan wasn't supposed to hurt him in the polls. The press was responsible for maintaining his approval rating, no matter how terrible he was at his job. 

Democrats expect the media to make politics like bumper bowling for children. There can be no gutterballs. Every throw knocks down pins. Every Democrat gets a participation trophy. 

Biden also complained there weren't enough surrogates on television defending him. This is bizarre, because almost every journalist sounds like a Biden surrogate to Republicans. White House reporters sound like they are all competing to replace Karine Jean-Pierre as White House press secretary. The idea that these reporters "somehow" failed to argue in every newscast and newspaper that Trump was inferior to Biden betrays a great unfamiliarity with media output...or simply a tantrum. Trump has been routinely portrayed as the End of Democracy, and Biden poses as the Guardian of Democracy. How is that not good enough? 

Foer told Chuck Todd every president with a low approval rating blames the media, but argued Biden had a point because Trump caused the media "to become so emotional, to get so engaged in covering all the high drama." So under Biden, "there's been this desire on the part of the press to reassert its standards of objectivity."

This is beyond laughable. This has all the seriousness of an argument that sawdust is delicious. 

Under Biden, we see eminentoes of the liberal media like former Washington Post editor Leonard Downie apologizing and confessing that objectivity "centered whiteness," that it was journalistic injustice. Ask Republicans today if they are sudden recipients of fairness and balance in news coverage.

Many television segments on Biden fail to include a Republican counterpoint. A recent NBC story on Biden mandating the pharmaceutical companies "negotiate" with Medicare on prices -- the government setting prices -- included no Republican arguments. Reporter Tom Costello instead suggested Republicans were against lower prices for Medicare participants who need medicines. 

The best complaint Bidenites could make is that press coverage remains so ardently anti-Trump that Biden is almost an afterthought. Maybe liberal reporters would argue that they're so tired from attacking Trump that they don't have time to turn around and energetically promote Biden. We routinely watch the news and jokingly ask "Who's President?" Trump gets all the slings and arrows, and Biden is comparably invisible. But you can't argue all the anti-Trump ardor doesn't help Biden.

The emotional sense you get in Biden's tantrum is that journalists just don't worship him like they worshipped Barack Obama. Biden was painted as restoring normalcy and competence and civility, even though he did none of that. But even that painting doesn't match their coverage of Obama, who was somehow the black JFK, FDR, and Abraham Lincoln, with maybe a dash of Jesus. 

Whatever structures of objectivity remained in the press were burned down in homage to Obama. Their highly emotional wrecking balls for Trump sounded like the same machine, put in reverse.