Friday, May 08, 2020


Last night, DougJ of Balloon Juice posted this poll on Twitter:

I understand what he's saying -- but I'm beginning to suspect that this Washington Post story from last night is a hint of what the mainstream media will actually be focused on in the fall:
Biden virtual Tampa rally runs into glitches, awkwardness and blank screens

“They introduce me?” a blurry Joe Biden asked five seconds after he appeared on-screen. “Am I on?” he added, as he walked toward the camera on choppy video and removed his aviator sunglasses.

What was supposed to be a crisp and cool introduction instead stoked confusion.

“Good evening, Tampa,” the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee said. “I wish we could have done this together and it had gone a little more smoothly.”

“This” was an event Thursday billed as a “Virtual Rally with Joe Biden in Tampa.” It was an hour plagued by technical glitches, awkward pauses, delays and even some blank screen time.

For a campaign seeking a substitute for the rousing events that Biden would be holding if not for the coronavirus, the first-of-its kind rally served as a tough lesson about the perils of remote campaigning....
The two big scandals Doug mentioned might get a great deal of media attention in the fall, but it's possible that they'll be played out by then. The Tara Reade story seems to be peaking too soon -- where can it go after Reade's Megyn Kelly interview? (In the interview, Reade claims Biden said "I want to fuck you" as he assaulted her -- this despite the fact that she told AP in 2019, “I wasn’t scared of him, that he was going to take me in a room or anything. It wasn’t that kind of vibe.”)

Dave Weigel doesn't think the story is hurting Biden:

The Hunter Biden story could resurface, but it might strike voters as old news, the way the Trump/Russia and Trump/Ukraine stories now seem like tales from a long-ago, pre-coronavirus world.

But "Democrat as awkward, hapless loser" is a time-honored media template. It beat Al Gore and it helped beat Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, and Mike Dukakis. It's durable because it doesn't require breaking news to sustain the narrative -- just everyday stumbles and glitches, some of which may be no worse than the ones being experienced by the candidate deemed "cooler."

Perhaps it will seem unsuited to a moment when we're experiencing a health crisis as bad as the Spanish Flu and an economic crisis as bad as the Great Depression. But I imagine that at least one pundit will write a column claiming that Biden's communications struggles are a very important issue. The thesis of this column will be that the next president will need to be able to use the bully pulpit to rally voters in this terrible moment, and will need to do so through electronic means. Trump, we'll be told, may have destroyed everything he's touched and led the country into multiple disasters, but he sure can talk on teevee, and at least his fans think he's a Great Communicator.

Maybe this won't happen. Maybe the press will give us coverage appropriate to the awful times we're in.

Or maybe not -- in which case, Biden-as-Zoom-screwup is a strong contender for the dominant narrative of the fall campaign.

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