Media does not properly balance Biden’s vs. Trump’s issues

By Jennifer Rubin, The Washington Post, Sept 22, 2023.

The media’s addiction to framing news through the prism of pseudo-balance and its lack of moral clarity have been clear in the coverage of Hunter Biden. Whether it is his personal legal problems resulting in his recent indictment that have nothing to do with President Biden (other than to demonstrate he hasn’t politicized the Justice Department) or the utterly baseless impeachment lacking any evidence to tie the president to foreign money, the mainstream media has plastered the front pages and cable news programs with ominous warnings. Trouble for Biden! A setback for his reelection! A headache (or issue or burden) for his campaign!

Among the worst takes on the impeachment: “Biden’s words from 2020 fuel GOP’s impeachment push” (Axios); and on Hunter Biden’s indictment: “Biden allies worry son Hunter’s indictment could strain the president’s 2024 focus” (NBC News). The worst of the worst was from the Wall Street Journal: “Biden’s Rough September: Auto Strike, Son’s Indictment, Inflation, Impeachment Inquiry.” (Inflation is actually down, and there is no sign anything involving his son is a drag on his reelection.)

These fit a common media pattern: Hammer an item and then castigate Democrats for getting distracted by or worrying about it. I find it hard to believe any significant number of people willing to vote for Biden would say, “Nope, his kid is being indicted, so I will go with Donald Trump” or “Even if there’s no evidence, Biden’s impeachment is as bad as Trump’s two.” Both the amount of and hysterical tone of coverage remind us how little self-awareness the media gained during the Trump years.

If it were not so infuriating, it would be comical. The political media’s obsession with alleged problems for Biden frankly smacks of attempting to make its own coverage a self-fulfilling prophecy. Then, the media can safely claim “both sides have problems,” even though no negative issue on Biden’s side remotely matches the danger and lunacy in inviting an accused felon and twice-impeached former president back to the White House.

As for the impeachment based on the utterly baseless charge that President Biden helped his son and/or benefited from his foreign business dealings, an unlikely source provided the definitive take on the entire gambit. Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) wrote for The Post: “What’s missing, despite years of investigation, is the smoking gun that connects Joe Biden to his ne’er-do-well son’s corruption.” That’s a simple statement of fact, one that should have been the news headline for the episode, not endless speculating about the “problem” it supposedly poses for the president.

Moreover, as the media attempts to even the scales, it diverts from a near-collapse in House leadership as Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) can find no feasible escape hatch from a shutdown that he knows will work to his and his party’s detriment. Maybe the most pressing story is not Hunter Biden’s gun charge but the utter incapacity of Republicans to govern.

 Image Credits: Andrew Harnik | Credit: AP