Far-left website Salon has an article today asking an obvious question: Why is the mainstream media so gentle with Joe Biden?
The two most important roles for journalists during political primary season are to cull the herd of the weakest candidates and take their best shots at the frontrunner, to test his or her readiness for the general election. That’s a public service for the political ecosystem.
So a profoundly weak frontrunner should be the ultimate in big game for our top political reporters.
Instead, mainstream journalists in the best positions to demand answers — during sit-down interviews and televised debates — have been remarkably gentle with Joe Biden.
They ask about his decision to authorize the war in Iraq, but not about the many documented times he has lied about why he made that decision, and when he first realized the war was a mistake.
They ask questions about his fitness for office, but let him off with glib answers about push-ups rather than assertively confronting him with examples of his consistent and troubling incoherence — even when he is in the process of giving them fresh examples.
They only lamely push back when he insists that he will be able to get Republican leaders to compromise with him — even when he cites examples that actually support the opposite conclusion.
They don’t press him on his support for the 2005 Bankruptcy Act, which made it much harder for individuals to file for bankruptcy and get out of debt, and made it impossible to discharge student debt. Does he acknowledge it had devastating effects on the middle class? Have his views changed? They don’t ask.
They don’t question him about his long history of attempting to cut Social Security, or ask him whether and when he stopped being a centrist deficit hawk.
They let him associate himself with Barack Obama, but don’t make him address the administration’s many failures and betrayals, such as the way Obama embraced Bushism on matters of national security, and embraced neoliberal economics. Would he appoint the same roster of people to run his foreign and domestic policy? What reason is there to believe he wouldn’t?
These top reporters don’t hesitate to grill Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren, often with gotcha questions and Republican talking points.
So why are they so easy on Joe? I can only speculate.
I think part of it is that they’re a bit awestruck. (“Joe Biden commands a boardroom,” the New York Times editorial board wrote about its collective interview with him.)
Part of it is that when Biden answers questions about his fitness by saying “look at me,” our elite journalists are simply not rude or direct enough to say: “Yeah, we look at you, and what we see someone who often can’t complete a coherent thought.”
Maybe they just can’t bring themselves to help Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
Most likely, these journalists — the most elite of the journalistic elite — are just plain comfortable with Biden, and don’t feel remotely antagonistic, because he reflects their centrist, Washington cocktail-party ideology.
The article then goes on at length to evaluate Biden’s positions in these areas. It’s an interesting read, but chances are you already know the details (and even this article underestimates how sleazy the Biden clan is).
It’s possible that the media are soft on Biden because he and the aging Democratic establishment are effective at bullying the chattering class. You feel like you are watching satire seeing the Boomer anchors on network television talking about concerns about the Biden family’s corruption, among other things, as if they were merely conspiracy theories. You’ve never seen journalists so un-curious about some politician’s hell spawn getting a high-dollar no-show gig (in a former Soviet state, no less) since Chelsea Clinton got paid in the upper six figures for writing a couple paragraphs for NBC periodically. And Biden just carried on about how we shouldn’t discipline China on trade, but you’d have to be a conspiracy theorist to think that has anything to do with his son banking mondo pseudo-sovereign fund investments there.
Yet I think the important point here is that it kind of doesn’t matter if the mainstream media ask Biden a tough question or not. They can’t hide that he’s going senile. People see that in debates, where he can’t put together a coherent answer and even seems unsure about where he is at points. People see that on YouTube videos of his interactions with voters at town halls and other campaign events, which have attracted many millions of views. The guy would turn 82 during his first term in the White House and he already acts like he needs to be in assisted living. If he actually won, he’d most certainly be a one-term president (if he even made it that long), so his entire presidency would be one long Democratic primary. He’d be a lame duck from day one, and the real question is who would be pulling the strings in the background. Kamala Harris gets this, which is why she’s sucking up to him trying to be his No. 2. It’s a joke.
Beyond that, it doesn’t matter what lengths the media go to protect Biden because younger generations have now officially crowded out the Baby Boomer generation in terms of voting, and these voters favor far-left, socialist candidates. All the ridiculous game playing that has taken place in previous primaries to keep establishment Boomer voices in Washington is losing its power organically.
If you take Generation X out of the picture, Millennials and Generation Z were responsible for over a quarter of the votes cast in midterms. Baby Boomers had their highest turnout in the midterm election, and they were still outnumbered by younger generations.
I am not sure it is a given that Baby Boomers will necessarily support establishment candidates either. You have some subsets of liberal Boomer voters, like retired school teachers, who are dealing with problems they have never dealt with before, like the potential loss of public pension income. I have no difficulty seeing these voters pulling the lever for a bona fide socialist like Sanders, and Sanders is wisely pointing out Biden’s past positions on cutting entitlements. Sanders may need to build momentum in early races for that reality to obtain, but it could happen.
Right now, Sanders is pulling ahead in polling in early voting states, and he’s not even out campaigning thanks to the Schiff show, which so far is doing nothing useful except making Biden’s corruption a household conversation and reinforcing generational fault lines in the Democratic base.