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It’s All Biden’s Fault–According to the Media

That seems to be their narrative. Everything that was wrong with the country when Biden took office, is now his fault, not just his responsibility. And anything that has gone wrong, or not perfectly, no matter from what area of the government, is Biden’s fault as well.

When it is a Republican Administration, this is not the narrative. Oh, the media may point out some problems, but they do not reflexively blame them on the Republican President. And it is invariably described as a “both sides” thing; the previous Democratic President always comes in for his share of the blaming. Not so with Democrats, at least not in the media’s pervasive narrative.

We know all this, but it is still worthwhile to at least point to the narratives which seem to fill the cable news shows, at least MSNBC, which is the only one I watch, at least since Brianna Keilar of CNN moved to early morning. And one cannot even tentatively want to imagine what it is like on Fox or the other Far Right-Wing propaganda networks, it is unquestionably far worse there.

Here are some of the things which the media blames on Biden, who has been in office for eight months, taking over in the midst of a horrifying pandemic, and with the economy suffering from unemployment, women having left the workplace, businesses struggling to stay afloat; and the effects of now rampant climate change affecting every area of the country and the world.

Afghanistan: It was botched by Biden, is the narrative. What was botched is not certain. Did the media hope that the war would continue? Certainly some of the people whom the media loves to interview, are part of what Eisenhower called the military-industrial complex. They always think they know best. They supported all of our incursions. They do not like us having pulled all our troops from Afghanistan.

Others admit that, well, maybe it was good to end the war, but we did it badly. They must have read arcane books about “How to successfully leave a war in another country that your side lost, in a very orderly fashion, even though the enemy is filled with terrorists” Maybe Lao Tzu or Von Clausewitz wrote that, but I have never heard of it. So the leaving had chaotic elements, though we got our troops out in a couple of weeks, plus about 120,000 Afghans. Some respected people in the military or in international matters, thought that this was a remarkable achievement, but not the media.

The terrorist attack at the airport was horrific, though there have been others of these during America’s forays into nation-building in the Middle East, and those were treated as very unfortunate, but the cost of war. And of course Trump had already negotiated the surrender of forces for months earlier, and would undoubtedly have just pulled out, leaving the Afghans to deal with it, like the people he threw paper towels to in Puerto Rico. The media didn’t make much of that absolute show of contempt and cruelty.

The pandemic: Well, they don’t blame Biden for it, but they’ve got polls showing a majority of people are giving Biden unfavorable ratings, “because of the handling of the pandemic.” And what is it that they wanted him to do? And the ratings are of course cumulative; the Far Right is programmed and eager to hate anything that Biden does. The anti-vaxxers, who overlap, but not completely, don’t want the mask mandates.

Others seem very upset that the FDA, led by what I think is that very questionable doctor from Tufts, who seems always on the wrong side of such matters, did not approve the third shot for any but a limited number of people. “Biden promised to have the rollout of the third shot by September,” they complain. Well, that is certainly disappointing to many people, but Biden doesn’t control the FDA, nor did he appoint many of its members, maybe not any. So did he overpromise? I was surprised and disappointed in the decision, and Dr. Fauci was very surprised. Biden is doing all he can do, but he is not a dictator, the FDA makes these decisions right now. They could change before too long, as Fauci thinks they will.

The economy: Each time the “jobs numbers” are disappointing (based on Wall Street estimates, and how did they ever have the mark of great insight?), it is bad for Biden. Then, since the graphs are not linear, they may well improve the next month, but somehow that gets lost if they are disappointing the month after that. It is as if Biden is supposed to have the power to completely fix the economy, and in his first nine months in office; and if he does not, he is failing.

The nuclear submarine agreement with England and Australia: France was miffed that they did not know about it. Maybe that was a misstep, but I do trust Blinken and Austin and Sullivan. I don’t know why New Zealand was not included; I like Jacinda Ardern a great deal as a leader. I know that she and the leader of Australia differ on many things, and I like her side of them better. But I am pretty confident that any of this can be ironed out.

The Climate Problem: The Republicans have done absolutely nothing about it, ever. And their big donors from the largest corporations have known about it for decades, and done nothing, once again sacrificing the lives of humans, animals and plants, to add some more billions to their coffers. But this is not “just’ about cars rolling over, or millions dying from cigarette-caused lung disease, this is about every person on the planet; and still they do not care. So Republicans listen to them, and their own rapaciousness, and do nothing to try to fix any of it–and it is said to be another failure for Biden.

The debt ceiling: Yes, even though it is Republicans who are maliciously trying to destroy the economy by not raising the debt ceiling, something which had been done for over a century, this is another area where the media purveys that Biden is falling short. They incredibly frame it as, “Republicans will not vote to raise the debt ceiling, leaving Biden and the Democrats in a very bad situation.” The fact that it is the Republicans deliberately refusing to live up to any responsibility to steward the country, is just seen as, “Well, there it is, now try to deal with it, Biden,”rather than something to explain to the viewers as to just how insidiously irresponsible the Republicans actions are.

The infrastructure bill: “Biden promised during the campaign to work together with the other party to pass this bill,” turns into an attack on him for not passing it yet. As if everything he honestly vowed to do or try to do, is something that if he cannot, or it takes some time, is a terrible stain on him; as if the brutal lies of Trump are now no worse than Biden running into problems trying to bring this bill across the wire, with Republicans almost all trying to stop him from doing it.

I’ve heard the term “Biden promised” many times, and I really watch very little of the shows. Last night, I sort of inadvertently turned to MSNBC the Brian Williams show, and he had a female guest, somebody who writes for some publication, whom I’ve seen before, always seeming to spin things negatively for the Democrats. Her first comment was, “Biden’s agenda is hanging by a thread.” I turned it off. So the media now is so anxious to write the end of the Biden presidency in nine months? If it hangs by a thread, and Republicans block all of it, he has ignominiously failed, and it’s time for everyone to stock up supplies for the second Trump term, or breathlessly wait to see which of his clones will take over?

I was never a great Biden fan, not many were. But he is certainly a decent and caring man, and he is on the right side of most issues. He has appointed some highly qualified people, at least from what I have read, or simply knowing of them. I would tend to trust them on most matters, a lot more than the hacks which populate the other side, and more than the self-styled “pundits” who fill up the political sites, and seem always to be owned by the Far Right, but pass themselves off as neutral.

He has worked very hard to deal with many issues, often ones caused by the neglect and disdain of Republicans. Every time there is a flood or fire, he must address it, as he should, even though Republicans only want their states to get money to help, but have no intention of fixing any of the underlying and worsening conditions. How is this Biden’s fault? And of course it limits the time which he can spend on all of these other exigent problems which the Republicans have played the major part in causing or accelerating.

Why does the media unceasingly do this? We have discussed it, and it will continue to be warranted. I certainly agree with IBW here and others, that the media is almost completely owned by the Far Right, which wants Republicans to win. But I think there is more to it. There is a laziness, a desire to be able to glibly spin the preferred narrative, rather than taking more time to tell a deeper story, which looks at the history and the antecedents of these issues as they currently exist.

There never stops being this obsessive need on the part of the media which is not clearly propagandistic, to do this “both sides” nonsense. They criticized Trump, so they lost no time in criticizing Biden They dropped his ratings ten points with their nonstop outrage over Afghanistan. Also, many of these people really are not very knowledgeable about government, and the effects of policies. They are far more comfortable with the “horse race narrative”: how does it hurt Biden’s ratings (” a lot!); will Democrats lose the House “(it looks likely!”); will Biden get a second term? (“it is in serious trouble; and even if he were to win, the Republicans would control the Congress, so he couldn’t get anything done, so his agenda has failed!”).

If you ever watch any of those daily sports shows on ESPN (and I avoid them, but sometimes hear a few minutes when waiting to take out some food), you would see a great similarity in approach. Some loud people, mostly men, making the most hyperbolic comments possible, and being anxious for “action!,” coaches being fired, trades, dissension in the clubhouse or locker room. They get to host or guest on these shows, and they think they have to be as controversial as possible, to keep the viewers from turning on something else.

The news media is becoming more like this. Maybe not as loud, or as much haw-hawing as they do on the sports shows, but with this apparent need for an easy narrative, which they are always invested in being proved right about; and the desire to gin up the excitement, as they and their bosses figure that people are not going to watch complex discussions of policy matters.

It seems as if the media, which has as short an attention span as the viewing public, has become bored with Biden, and wants someone new, or some different configuration. That may be fun for them, but it is immensely irresponsible. This is not the Olympics, or Dancing With the Stars , it is about the fate of America and the world. They need to somehow grasp this, and treat it with the nuance and depth it deserves. Otherwise, they are no different from all the various people who are sacrificing our democracy, and people’s lives, at the altar of their own desire for the coins of their realm, whether those are money, or fame, or just being “cool” and “important,” and recognized on the street, but only when you want to be, of course,

12 Responses

  1. IMO this all stems from two points in the Republican Long game:

    1) Dumb down the public

    2) Control the narrative

    They have been at this for 40 + years (basically all of my adult life) and have been astoundingly successful. They have been helped along enormously by the internet, social media in particular. I feel sorry for those who are coming along now, because I can’t imagine how bad it will be in another 40 years.

  2. There is no doubt in my mind that “mainstream” media, both on television and in print, have failed us in the last few decades. Large media corporations control the narrative, as it benefits their bottom line. Partisan pundits have replaced objective journalists. Opinions stand in for researched facts. Viscous arguments take the place of civilized debates. (I find I miss William F. Buckley even though I disagreed strongly with him.) Our society and its democracy has suffered as a result.

    The Internet and its many platforms, especially Facebook and Twitter, has become the source of information for many people. Fewer pay attention to network or print news. (I have never been on FB or Twitter. I don’t have cable or commercial network television either so I rarely know what is being discussed on social media or “the shows”. I’m clearly a fossil.)

    When I was in graduate school, I was required to take a course in “Information and Society”. It was in the early days of the Internet. We learned about something called the “Information Pyramid”. At the bottom of the Pyramid was Information. In the middle was Knowledge. At the very top was Wisdom. The idea was that as humans we seek information, then we use that information to gain knowledge and ultimately to acquire wisdom. If only that were true.

    Today, society is flooded with information. It is everywhere. Much of it comes from the Internet and its various platforms where people are free to pick and choose, to create their own narratives. Truth or lies, we alone or with our chosen group of like minded people (whom we may never have met) decide what to believe. “Information” wins. Knowledge and Wisdom are the losers.

  3. I turn on the TV this morning, and it seems that Nancy Pelosi is quite confident that an infrastructure bill will be passed in the House. We certainly hope so. The media was pushing the story that the Democrats are hopelessly bogged down, but they might have done better to focus on Pelosi’s abilities. Also, the fact that Republicans support nothing except the most stripped down bill, does not seem to be part of their narrative. Democrats have to realize that they cannot afford to let this bill fail, and I think they do. The media generally hate to give Democrats credit for anything, it seems.

    • That is good news, William.

      I think Biden met with Congressional Democrats yesterday. So we see progress today. With the combined experience that Biden, Pelosi and Schumer have, I believe it can be done. Polls, for what they are worth, show that Democratic legislation is popular with the American people. Not so much with the corporate media whose greed is boundless.

      • I watched Speaker Pelosi’s press conference, very encouraging. She is an American treasure, although many of us still greatly wish that she would have supported Hillary over Obama in 2008.

        With this 25 minute press conference, I learned more about the status of negotiations than we got from a week of news coverage. She also excoriated Republicans for not raising the debt ceiling, and explained to those listening that the Democrats always backed the raise when Republicans were Presidents; and that this always relates to paying the debts of the last year, including the ones that Republicans piled up by the tax cut for the very wealthy, This seems so obvious and important to understand, and yet the media keeps pushing it as “Biden’s problem,” or “Democrats facing hurdles.” It is the Republicans who maliciously put them there, because they can only focus on how they think they are going to take over the country, not as Pelosi emphasized, being stewards to protect it. Pelosi has the stature to be covered live, so she can scale the wall put up by the media which would prefer to tell its own narrative. I feel a good deal better about the fate of this all-important bill, after listening to her.

    • Sadly, my first thought is that these so called centrist democrats who are to the right of what used to be a centrist republican have gotten assurances from Manchin/Sinema that it’s not going to pass in the Senate without significant modification, so they are at least giving the appearance of being ‘team players’.

      I understand this is a cynical attitude, and I would be very relieved to be proven wrong.

      • Yes, we have Manchin and Sinema to deal with on the Senate side, and AOC and her supporters on the House side. Republicans do not have such problems, they all vote the same way. We have to come up with a figure which keeps in the most important aspects, maybe trims a few things, and can get the two Senate “Democrats” to accept it, while somehow convincing AOC and her supporters to actually compromise, to save the republic. The admirable E.J. Dionne yesterday applied Benjamin Franklin’s famous line about hanging together, so we do not all hang separately, with regard to this issue. I think that the House Democrats understand this. I don’t know what Manchin and Sinema will do, because neither of them may have much concern for the future of the Democratic Party.

        • I think the progressives on the House side have already shown their willingness to compromise, and those two in the Senate have not done a THINK… I will take AOC and the progressives over Manchin and Sinema any day.

          • ARGGHHH… obviously a THING… but I guess they don’t THINK either, at least not without some monetary inducement.

          • Agree. Progressives in both the House and Senate have shown a willingness to compromise (that includes Sanders as well as AOC).They HAVE compromised. It is the so-called centrists who are immovable. They need to get on board, ’cause there’s a train a comin’.

      • I worry about the same outcome. But something that has surprised me recently is that Schumer seems to be moving to the left. I think he will pressure “centrist” Democrats by challenging/daring them to cast votes against policies and programs in the infrastructure and reconciliation bills that are very popular in their own states. And who knows what Schumer may be threatening “centrists” behind the scene? As I said, he is showing a side of himself recently that I have not seen before.

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