Biden is starting to get rough
President Biden took office with largely sympathetic treatment from the mainstream media, especially after Capitol rioters tried to block his election just two weeks earlier.
While hit hard on the right, he had a long media honeymoon, with few early successes, a unified tone and the mere fact that he was not Donald Trump.
Well, it’s over now.
While nothing compares to the war between journalists and Trump – in both directions – Biden is starting to get rough. Sometimes turbulent weather has turned into a tropical storm, and can strengthen into a hurricane.
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At first, the press quipped over Biden’s performance on particular issues. But the political indictment of his term has become more widespread in recent weeks.
It was thus that “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd declared: “I think they have a huge credibility crisis on their hands.”
It’s a stinging phrase that conjures up images of Vietnam, Watergate and Iraq. For NBC’s political director to say this on “Sunday Today” is not a slip of tongue during a cable debate.
Todd went through the litany: the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan, which Biden insisted, would not be the same as Saigon. Promised ahead of time that everyone would be able to get the Covid booster shots. A growing crisis at the border, where Biden’s policies have become a “magnet” for migrants. These problems intensified, Todd said, “after saying something basically the exact opposite.”
When Jen Psaki appeared on CBS’ “Morning” yesterday, she came under discussion with co-host Gayle King.
Speaking about foreign policy ahead of the president’s UN speech, King unloaded:
“We can’t ignore what’s happened before. We’re still agonizing over how to withdraw from Afghanistan. Many people believe it was time. It was done exactly that way. So We all agree with that. That’s not a good look. You see what’s going on with immigration. You now see France saying they’ve been betrayed by the United States… We on our part What are you doing to justify or explain very bad behavior?”
Psaki responded that “we don’t see it that way” and defended Biden’s nuclear submarine deal with Australia, saying a poor friendship with France would survive. “The president is the first to say you have to work on the relationships,” she said.
On “The View,” usually a cheer segment for Democrats, several panelists yesterday moved on to images of equestrian Border Patrol agents holding Haitians and using their animals to push back migrants.
“This is what you would do if an animal was infesting your yard,” said Sarah Haines. “The way people are treating me is absolutely more upsetting and a little more depressing than I’d like to feel about it.” Sunny Hostin said she is “very disappointed in the Biden administration today. Very disappointed.”
The term may add to the media’s reaction to the Biden presidency, which was supposed to solve all the problems left by the former man through bipartisan cooperation.
And when you throw in the Democratic infighting that is stalling and could even overwhelm the president’s multi-trillion dollar legislation, he’s got some tough seas ahead. “President Biden’s governing agenda is at risk of being exposed on Capitol Hill,” says the Washington Post. “The package may pop off, shrink dramatically – or even fail completely,” says Politico. There is also a deadlock regarding the loan limit. And if the virus cases keep on increasing then things will get worse.
I know from long Beltway experience that presidents rarely ride as high or sink as low as they might seem in a snapshot in time. If millions more people get vaccinated, if the infrastructure-and-everything-bill is passed, if the memories of Afghanistan fade, Biden’s fortunes could soar in the coming months.
But press coverage will probably be skeptical for a long time to come. What all these overlapping crises have in common is that the media is questioning Biden’s competence. Not to be confused with the 78 doubts sown by Republicans, but whether they have the qualities to lead America and the world. When it comes to the news business, Biden doesn’t get the automatic benefit of the doubt.