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A new argument over whether Joe Biden or Donald Trump has received poor media coverage should not trigger vague algorithms.

Another serious debate about whether the media needs to go easy on Biden is actually pretty troubling.

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I’ve covered dozens of studies on whether coverage is declared positive, negative, or neutral, and here’s the key fact: These studies can be useful as a rough gauge, but fail to account for tone and intensity. .

Consider: A story that says “Joe Biden is slipping into the polls because he’s grappling with multiple crises and his agenda is stalled on Capitol Hill” would be scored negative.

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And a story that says “Donald Trump is a racist, anti-feminist and psychopath determined to destroy this country” will also be scored negatively.

But clearly there is no comparison. Even the toughest stories about the current president can challenge his ability, but not his character.

This is Biden’s Washington, but the press can’t get enough of Trump

Many stories of the former president – to this day – depict him as a fascist who will stop at nothing to establish himself as a dictator.

catch fire

The topic came under fire at the time of Dana Milbank, a liberal columnist for the Washington Post. data used To argue from an organization called Fiscal Note that Biden’s coverage for the past four months has been as bad — and at times worse — Trump’s coverage for the same four months as last year.

Data guru Nate Silver says many of Biden’s stories are “completely random. There are a lot of stories about the stock market. Many have nothing to do with Biden (‘Haiti’s president murdered at home, wife) Injured’).”

But just for the sake of argument, let’s assume the analysis was accurate. This concludes Milbanks:

“My colleagues in the media are serving as aides to the murder of democracy.”

Yes, Milbanks said the press is being too hard on Biden, the press is spoiling America.

“We need a skeptical, free press. But what about being biased towards democracy? The country is in an existential struggle between self-rule and an authoritarian alternative. And we have, collectively, given equals in the news media Deal with authoritarians, if not a little more favourable.”

Misguided mindset?

So here’s the mindset: Biden may have his flaws, but Trump is basically evil (Milbank runs through Covid, election fraud, Jan. 6, etc.). If the media is equally tough on Biden and Trump, they are choosing the “wrong” side. Ergo, journalists should ease up on Biden.

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It is precisely this approach that has weighed heavily on the media’s so-so credibility over the past half-dozen years. Milbanks is arguing that the stakes are so high that journalists should be proactive, that they have an obligation to tilt the playing field toward the preferred outcome. And this is what has weakened the profession.

President Biden is seen outside the White House before boarding Marine One on Friday, July 30, 2021 in Washington.

How was it that we didn’t learn this lesson? Solid reporting on Trump certainly made it clear what he did, but the openly hostile reassurance didn’t reassure anyone who doesn’t already hate the man.

Ross Douthat, a New York Times conservative and no Trump fan, They say It is “this view of the role of the press that really empowers democracy, fuels polarization and makes the crisis in our system all the more likely.”

He argues that “there is an essential problem with the idea that a little less media neutrality, a little more open alarmism, will replace Trumpism. You can’t suppress a populist rebellion simply by rallying the establishment if the establishment is suspicious.” Well first of all what is generating support for populism.”

And if Biden’s coverage has become too serious, Douthat says, “it has become serious for reasons that any credibility would need to acknowledge an objective and serious press corps.”

President Joe Biden speaks in the State Dining Room of the White House on Monday, October 4, 2021.

Again, I do not accept the notion that, for all of Biden’s missteps, the press has discredited him with a Trump-like passion. But what the mainstream media has done has had the opposite effect.

Foot Note: Dana Milbanks, on the other hand, has offered: heartfelt tribute For his boss, Washington Post editorial page editor Fred Hyatt, who recently died unexpectedly at the age of 66. Fred is an old friend who was smart, warm, kind, and a first-class man — and when his regular conservative columnists turned against Trump, he made sure to recruit some pro-Trump voices.