Wednesday, December 08, 2021


Dana Milbank recently argued that negative coverage of President Biden this year -- worse coverage, according to one analysis, than the coverage of President Trump in 2020 -- is giving Trump an opening to make a comeback and undermine democracy. Ross Douthat doesn't agree with the approach to journaliam Milbank is suggesting and doesn't believe that even the recent negative coverage of Biden is comparable to the coverage of Trump:
... my sense is that Trump’s negative coverage reflected more stalwart opposition (the president we oppose is being terrible again) while in Biden’s case the negativity often coexists with implicit sympathy (the president we support is blowing it, and we’re upset).
I don't accept Douthat's characterization of the Biden coverage.

For the mainstream media, Biden was never "the president we support." At best, he was, in 2020, "the guy running against the president we oppose." The "liberal media" isn't liberal; it sometimes speaks poorly of Republicans because they attack LGBT people, praise guns, restrict reproductive rights, and deny climate change. On the other hand, Democrats are sometimes economically liberal, seeking to tax wealthy people to pay for programs that benefit ordinary people, and the elite press doesn't like that at all. Elite journalists sometimes embrace bro-ish Democrats like 1992 Bill Clinton or 2008 Barack Obama, but if they get into office and seek to help the have-nots at the expense of the haves, their press coverage quickly turns negative. (The press's ideal president would be a socially moderate fiscal conservative -- Mike Bloomberg, Bill Weld, Larry Hogan.)

Joe Biden is probably the most New Dealish president since Lyndon Johnson, and the press hates him for it. The press never liked him much, not even in 2020, but at least he didn't seem socially "woke" or economically radical. But now he wants to help the non-elites rather than cut the deficit or reduce entitlements. Also, he was serious about getting out of Afghanistan at long last. He's hated for that, too.

"The president we support is blowing it, and we’re upset"? No, it's more like: The president we thought was a safe choice turns out not to be a neoliberal, and we’re upset. Thank God he's made mistakes, because we can use them to bury him. And the beneficiary of that will be Donald Trump.

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