by Richard Cameron
Forget Personal Responsibility – Just Blame Joe Biden For Everything
Since I wrote the first two installments of this series – here and here, I have been just ruminating on how I might sum up the bottom line of how the American mainstream media is presenting a distorted narrative on the performance of President Joe Biden and his administration.
I just could not and cannot escape the conclusion that the narrative is plainly and simply that whatever problems and challenges the nation faces, the blame for undesirable outcomes can be laid at the doorstep of the Oval Office and Joe Biden himself. So, here, I will dispense with all the customary graphs and charts and references to various subject matter experts, because the evidence for this conclusion is everywhere and at all times to be found in plain sight.
Take for example CNN. It has become something so predictable that you as a viewer, could write an outline for the day’s programming on several of the segments and having seen precisely what you expected to see, arrive at the conclusion that you have the gift of premonition.
For instance, on any given weekly installment of Inside Politics with John King, the host will spend a lengthy segment unpacking one of the many polls the network frequently produces about voter sentiment vis a vis, President Biden’s approval ratings.
The focus of the polling has chiefly to do with inflation and the pandemic. King will display the numbers broken down between responses from Republicans, Democrat voters and self described ‘Independents’. Invariably we hear, “President Biden’s approval ratings threaten to derail Democrats in the mid-term elections coming up in November.”
“My colleagues in the media are serving as accessories to the murder of democracy.”
– Washington Post columnist, Dana Milbank
It is incessant. What CNN is inflicting on its viewers, is the televised equivalent of “doomsurfing.” If you are not familiar with the term, it is a relatively new buzzword that describes how a sizable segment of the television news audience is unwittingly addicted to coverage that handles events in a sensationalized manner, while conveniently withholding facts that might provide context or perspective.
Most all network news coverage serves this sort of framing up to its viewers – we’re not intending to single out CNN in this regard. Is it new? By no means. Broadcast journalism, while seeking to avoid the most obvious excesses of what is termed, “yellow journalism”, nevertheless adds layers of drama to everything they cover.
Is it more pervasive now than ever? An argument could be made. Is it imprudent and injudicious? Yes and I would add, opportunistic from a ratings standpoint.
Once the media cements the premise in the minds of viewers (and in the case of online media – readers), that the Joe Biden presidency is in turmoil, in trouble, headed for a train wreck this year and in 2024 – news consumers respond accordingly.
Trump supporters revel in the coverage and Democrats tune it for any ray of hope that might find its way through the monolith of gloom.
Am I overstating the case? Well, I’ll let Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank outline the data:
Artificial intelligence can now measure the negativity with precision. At my request, Forge.ai, a data analytics unit of the information company FiscalNote, combed through more than 200,000 articles — tens of millions of words — from 65 news websites (newspapers, network and cable news, political publications, news wires and more) to do a “sentiment analysis” of coverage.
Using algorithms that give weight to certain adjectives based on their placement in the story, it rated the coverage Biden received in the first 11 months of 2021 and the coverage President Donald Trump got in the first 11 months of 2020.
The findings, painstakingly assembled by FiscalNote vice president Bill Frischling, confirmed my fear: My colleagues in the media are serving as accessories to the murder of democracy.After a honeymoon of slightly positive coverage in the first three months of the year, Biden’s press for the past four months has been as bad as — and for a time worse than — the coverage Trump received for the same four months of 2020.
In my first essay about the “knives out” posture of the media toward this president, we focused on the prevailing trend of the reporting on the economy, with particular emphasis on the way inflation is being covered.
I pointed out that aside from supply chain issues that the president has neither caused nor has much control over, much of the upward inflationary trend, is a factor of the manner in which the Federal Reserve manages the money supply.
More specifically, I detailed how the Fed regulates interest rates, with the intended effect of holding them artificially low so as to perpetuate the artificial ferment of the markets and the enrichment of the Fed’s beneficiaries, the investment class.
It’s old news that action needs to be taken to dramatically pull back on the stimulus of zero fed fund rates and the asset purchases and yet, the Fed still is not taking action, stalling and preferring to diddle until mid-March, when no one is certain they will take aggressive action to cool inflation.
But the respondents to the various media polls have little to no concept of what is driving the cost of goods and services, so prompted by the simplicity of yes and no questions, opt to lay the blame at Biden’s feet. And this despite experts on the consumer economy pointing to “pent up consumer activity” – meaning both panic buying and colloquially, “the urge to splurge” as being a key component in the surge in prices.
Did the president advise people to go out and load up their personal credit with more debt and in doing so, drive the cost of goods up in the process? Is delayed gratification “so last century”?
Three words – objectivity, proportionality and perspective. As they apply to the subject at hand, the question is two-fold. Is the intense scrutiny of the job performance of President Joe Biden and his administration by the American mass media, proportionate or objective – or instead, devoid of perspective?
I included objectivity in the triad, because of the three values, it is the one that is least reasonable to expect in the media environment. But even minus objectivity, is it unreasonable to expect news reporting to lay out, at the very least, an abridged delineation that illustrates the fallacy that Biden can singlehandedly banish either the pandemic or inflation?
Our focus of the analysis in the first article was the inordinate extent to which broadcast media has reduced the matter of the COVID-19 impacted economy to a consensus that the state of affairs is attributable to poor leadership on the part of the president and that the effects of any other factors are trivial in comparison.
One critic, not having actually read the piece that I posted on Facebook, looked at the title and drew the inference that my position was that Biden should be insulated from criticism. His objection was from the standpoint of how the media dealt with Donald J. Trump – in his estimation, unfairly.
We’ll identify the individual only by his initials, “K.W.” The argument proceeded along these lines:
“K.W.”: “It’s only fair the mainstream media did the exact same thing when trump was president! Just cause it’s a democrat President shouldn’t mean the mainstream media should go easy on him! So it was ok for mainstream media to go hard on trump seeking blood but not do the same to Biden? Hypocrite”
National Compass: “Lets recite the litany of Trump’s presidency;
– the trashing of the office itself,– the trashing of historical norms of behavior,– the constant campaigning from right out of the starting gate,– the fostering distrust for our system of elections even before the election,– the “sore winner” syndrome,– the tariffs,– the COVID misinformation leading to hundreds of thousands of needless deaths,– the gifting of tax avoidance to the element that least needs more of it,– the embarrassment to our country whenever Trump would attend international summits with our allies,– the attempt to gain oppo research on Biden from a foreign leader.
- For attempting to restore dignity to the office he holds? For trying to encourage people to do the right thing and vaccinate?
- For withdrawing our military presence from a failed state status that will never get resolved if we remain there for another century – and this after Trump legitimized the Taliban – thus signaling to the citizens of Afghanistan that resistance was futile?
- Nowhere in the article did I even imply that Biden is immune to legitimate criticism. What I am arguing in favor of is perspective in light of the mess the man inherited.
- It’s stupid. Not sure what Joe is going to be held personally responsible for next.
- Weeds in your back yard?
- Synagogues held hostage?
- The battery goes bad in your Tesla?
- Your friend died from COVID because Biden couldn’t manage to force him to get the jab?”
For the record, I did not mutter that the commenter was a “stupid Son of a Bitch” – the reason being that you can’t mutter anything on Facebook and when people’s feelings get hurt, they run to Facebook and report that they have been “bullied”. If you bite your tongue and stick to the facts of any debate instead, there is virtually nothing that can form the basis of someone reporting you.
But the matter of there existing any such comparison between the presidency of Donald Trump and Joseph Biden, is null. You can’t. It’s not apples and apples – it’s apples and rotten apples.
On the one hand, you have an occupant of the office, who has taken a wrecking ball to each and every historical norm that applies to the office, constantly and with deliberate purpose, divided the country and who serially committed crimes and abuses of the power inherent in the executive branch.
On the other, you have a man who was elected partially on the basis of his own qualities of character and history of service, but in the majority, his unseating of his opponent was attributable to the fact that the election in 2020 was a referendum on four plus years of outrage and excess on the part of the incumbent.
At this point, I wish to circle back to the absurdity of the presidential approval rating polling. One question regarding them stands out.
How dubious are the results when taking into consideration the baseline sensibilities of the sort of individual who picks up a landline phone – or even a cell phone (even less likely) and actually agrees to take political questions from a surveyor that is a complete stranger? The predominate majority of polling is conducted via the medium of phones. Those who consent to such an engagement constitute a sub-set of the population.
What is the political orientation of a willing subject of a phone survey? I’m not sure if that has been studied by political consultants, but it’s not a major leap to presume that the results of these approval rating polls might not be as representative of the entire population as they at face value are purported to be by the talking heads on network news. To cite one example, the Quinnipiac University poll that invariably renders the worst numbers for the president, consists of half of the respondents fielding questions from pollsters on landline phones. Yes, landline phones, ladies and gentlemen. The rumors of their demise are premature.
Even so, let’s just take the two most nonsensical results at face value. One, that Joe Biden has the sole and exclusive capability to bring the coronavirus pandemic to a screeching halt and return America to something that resembles pre-pandemic normality and the second – that Biden has a magic wand to banish inflation and he’s either deliberately hiding it or he is too cognitively impaired to remember where he last put it.
Here is where the matter of personal responsibility rears its ugly head. Well, maybe its homely head. How foolish is it to believe that with somewhere in the neighborhood of 40 percent of the residents of the United States, being at the same time, avid conspiracy theory consumers and either Covid vaccine skeptics or outright refuseniks, America can just go back to business as usual?
We can, of course, but at what cost? We’ll soon hit 1 million deaths from the virus. Is yet another million acceptable as the terms of relieving people of their “COVID fatigue”?
I don’t even want to imagine what the reaction would be from people in 1943 or 1944, if I were to time travel back to any town or city and openly declare that I am “so weary of all the personal sacrifices for this stupid war, let’s just move on, shall we?” It conjures up images of something like tar and feathering, and that hopefully only verbally.
But here in 2022, people who refuse to cooperate with reasonable public health directives and not only refuse, but militate against them – claim that they are “patriots”. It’s impossible to wrap your mind around such reckless stupidity, but there it is.
And so, what is Joe Biden supposed to do with them? He’s already advised, admonished, pleaded on the basis of some facet of authentic patriotism and his pleas have fallen on deaf ears. What’s left? What’s left, apparently, is to be the subject of blame for others’ lack of personal responsibility.
And with regard to the other absurdity – if by some bizarre twist of logic, President Biden can be held accountable for everything that has gone wrong with a supply chain that is hiking the cost of good and services – who is the culprit that is behind inflation everywhere else on the face of the planet? Biden as well? This is beyond ridiculous.
What part of if you reject and fail to participate in the solution to the pandemic, you are perpetuating the circumstances that lead to shortages, don’t they understand? All of it, evidently.
And still, to this very moment, while malcontents block the main arteries for trade between Canada and the United States – with, by the way, the encouragement of Fox News, GOP house members and Senators and the former president, the dearth of manufactured parts for automobiles and household goods brings production in domestic industry to a standstill and will inevitably lead to even higher prices.
Kentucky GOP Senator Rand Paul has even publicly stated an invitation to American truckers to duplicate the Canadian blockades here in America, in places like the nation’s capitol and in Los Angeles, during the Super Bowl.
And nonetheless, the drumbeat of criticism on broadcast news of Biden and his administration continue to drive the false narrative that at the end of the day, if a society abandons personal responsibility, the man sitting behind the Resolute desk is the locus of all failure.
If the country is heading in the wrong direction, it might be time to stand in front of the mirror and have a chat with the real source of the problems. Never mind. That won’t work. It makes too damn much sense.