Sen. John Cornyn came under blistering attack from Washington Post scribe Aaron Blake for having wondered whether President Joe Biden is really in charge, since he’s kept an extremely low profile with the press. Blake took after the senator for implying the Trump spin that old Joe has lost a few mental gears and is something of a “Manchurian Candidate.” “It’s a baseless and ugly bit of innuendo,” Blake wrote.
On Twitter, Cornyn linked to a Politico story in which writer Eugene Daniels noted: “The president is not doing cable news interviews. Tweets from his account are limited and, when they come, unimaginably conventional. The public comments are largely scripted. Biden has opted for fewer sit down interviews with mainstream outlets and reporters.” He’s had one press conference during his 84 days in office.
One obvious explanation for the Biden strategy is his tendency to insert his foot in his mouth. But it’s also obvious that he has zero fear of his low availability to the press being a problem with “mainstream” reporters, since about 99.96% of them surely voted for him in November.
Most Americans are relieved that the president’s tweets are “unimaginably conventional.” But the press slid back to its Obama-era tone, championing sappy Biden tweets about his love for his wife, “Jilly,” and Jilly’s buying treats at black-owned bakeries. White House chief of staff Ron Klain routinely retweets the “mainstream” reporters, implying that he endorses their helpful pro-Biden spin.
Ex-CNNer Steve Krakauer pointed out that Klain retweeted PBS White House reporter/repeater Yamiche Alcindor, who happily quoted Biden as saying that he is redefining infrastructure “to meet the aspirations of the American people and their needs.”
Reporters are helping Biden redefine bipartisanship as ignoring congressional Republicans and citing poll findings that show regular Republicans approve of his mega-spending bills. As if Republicans would answer “no” if asked, “Do you support COVID-19 relief?”
Normally, we could explain the press’s tone changes this way: When Republicans are in power, members of the press sound like Complainers, isolating problems and suggesting America is being governed badly. When Democrats take charge, the press becomes full of Explainers, who say everything is running smoothly and the only problem with governing is that those maddening Republicans aren’t as docile as reporters.
This framework doesn’t work with Donald Trump. They sound like Explainers now, but under former President Trump, they weren’t Complainers. They were … Screechers. They sounded like panicked doomsayers on street corners, wearing “The End Is Near” sandwich boards. We were in never-ending danger of dictatorship and then, in 2020, of sudden death.
Blake was furious that anyone would suggest Biden isn’t in control … even though his Washington Post routinely sought out anonymous sources to warn readers that Trump was dangerously out of control. His newspaper’s new slogan was a primal scream. Its goal was to remove Trump — as early as it could. Everyone on its side was Team Democracy. Everyone who supported Trump was Team Autocracy.
This is why most Americans have grasped the obvious, easily quantifiable fact that the “mainstream” media is actually the “Demstream” media. Republicans disapprove of the media, and Democrats approve of the media for the same reason. Their function is to create the best conditions for “social change,” and glowing poll numbers for Democrats and their leftist agenda.
That’s why Biden doesn’t have to take the low risk of a sappy interview with Norah O’Donnell or Lester Holt. He doesn’t have to call up Steve Inskeep at NPR for a shoeshine. Everyone in the “news” business is satisfied. He can pretend that it’s still 2020 and he’s safely running a pseudocampaign from Wilmington, Delaware.
The press is now just “infrastructure” for Biden, evolving “to meet the aspirations of” the president and his needs.
Tim Graham is director of media analysis at the Media Research Center and executive editor of the blog NewsBusters.org. To find out more about Tim Graham, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.