The mainstream media has long appeared to be something of a de facto ally of the Democratic Party. As a result, the news media’s seeming dedication to shielding Democratic politicians from criticism rarely surprises people.
But there is a strange new twist of late: leading members of the press are now willing to blame themselves and their colleagues for President Biden’s sagging poll numbers.
Dana Millbank writes in the Washington Post, “The Media treats Biden as badly as, or worse than Trump,” citing analytics from Fiscal Note. Mr. Millbank continues, with the understatement to be expected from the WaPo opinion page, “my colleagues in the media are serving as accessories to the murder of Democracy.” Is Millbank implying that any reportage that may lead American voters to support a Republican should be avoided? The piece does not address studies showing that there are on average thirteen liberals to every one conservative in newsrooms. Perhaps this Washington Post columnist is crediting his colleague “conservative blogger” Jennifer Rubin for keeping the publication fair and balanced.
Have members of the news media discussed the failures of the current Democratic administration? Yes, they simply could not avoid discussing the deaths of thirteen service members in Afghanistan after the President abruptly ordered a total withdraw of military personnel from the country, or the deaths of ten Afghan civilian allies, including seven small children as a result of an American drone strike.
With grocery store shelves empty as a result of self-inflicted supply chain disruptions and inflation hitting forty-year highs, the news media cannot avoid all criticism of the party that controls the White House and both houses of Congress. Still, it is extraordinarily likely that, if the GOP were in power, the criticism would be exponentially harsher, considering that the press would routinely reach DEFCON 1 levels over even minor bad news during the Trump years.
The timing of the unusual pivot to blaming themselves for President Biden’s failures is especially nonsensical considering the revelation that the White House has been holding meetings with major news outlets behind the scenes in order to “reshape coverage” of the ongoing economic crisis, according to CNN. If news networks were attempting to hold the President accountable and were as critical of this administration as they were on the previous one, why would they be taking advice directly from Joe Biden’s communications team on how to cover economic news?
CNBC’s Jim Cramer apparently got the memo. On Thursday, Cramer told his audience, “to me, we have the strongest economy perhaps I have ever seen.” He continued “Did you see that number this morning, that unemployment number? It’s the best in 60 years, the best since ’69!” Unfortunately—for Cramer, the Biden administration, and the American public—this statement came less than 24 hours before news broke that inflation has hit a 39 year high as consumer prices rose at a yearly rate of 6.8% as of November. In the last year, the price of gas has increased 58.1%. Americans are feeling inflation at the grocery store as well, with the price of bacon up 21% and the price of steak up 24.6% in the last year.
Corporate media can toe the party line on economic coverage. They can even blame their own coverage for President Biden’s low approval rating. But until the economy recovers, no amount of spin will convince the American people that blame should not rest on the party in power.
Your average American is smarter than the politicians and pundits give them credit for, and the “don’t believe your lying eyes” routine is unlikely to convince voters that their paycheck is going as far as it did a year ago.
Brady Leonard is a musician, political strategist, and podcaster based in Toledo, Ohio. The No Gimmicks Podcast airs Mondays and Wednesdays at 1pm EST, wherever podcasts are found. Follow him on Twitter @bradyleonard