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Flickr-Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 2.0


Biden’s Master Airbrushers in the Media

On July 21, President Joe Biden held a townhall in Cincinnati, taking questions from gushingly friendly CNN “journalists.” The room in which he spoke was half empty. From all appearances, Biden confirmed the suspicions of his critics that he is failing mentally and that what his “advisers” told him to say parroted the views of the left wing of his party and lacked any national consensus.

Calling the townhall an “absolute farce,” a commentary from The Hill noted that rather than dealing with serious issues, such as the more than a million illegals who have already streamed across our southern border and the spiraling crime rate in our cities, Biden confined himself to scripted, thoroughly implausible responses. There is no crisis on our border, our president insisted, but if there is trouble in that area, then Donald Trump caused it. The escalating urban violence is supposedly the result of a lack of gun control laws, not the defunding of police and the driving of police officers into retirement. Although we are now facing rising inflation, Biden assured us it would go away if Congress passed his infrastructure bill, which is loaded with giveaway programs to Democratic constituencies.

These observations from The Hill were an anomaly. Most of the time, it doesn’t really make any difference what is real. People’s perceptions of our leaders are largely shaped by how the major media—allied as they are with the Democrats—present them. 

The influence of the media on America’s perceptions of her current leaders can be seen in the polls. Despite the problems this failing president has caused, reliable polls track Biden’s popularity at 50 percent or better. Moreover, his personal popularity hardly ever moves south even when he reels off stock leftist answers to policy questions, which sometimes appear to be so ideologically driven that one feels like saying, “You must be kidding!” Those who listen to him know exactly what he will say, often haltingly, as he gazes at his prompter. I doubt most Americans think Biden is at the top of his game, but they like him and what they believe to be harmless platitudes he utters before lapsing into senior moments. Likewise, although Kamala is thought by her critics to have an utterly obnoxious, entitled personality, and is scolded for having failed to do anything positive to end the border crisis, her approval rating is still one percentage point above her disapproval marks, according to Real Clear Politics.

In the media-driven narrative, Biden remains a sweet, doddering grandfather who means well for the country even if he doesn’t express himself clearly. He is also depicted as a “tragic figure,” who lost a son to cancer and before that, a wife and daughter in a car crash. Even the fact that his son Hunter has been involved in shady activities with his father’s occasional involvement should not lessen our respect for the patriarch who has stood by his son, according to this viewpoint.

The worst the media allows us to think about Joe is that he has been overly generous to a child in his fifties who never recovered emotionally from “family tragedies.” We must also never forget that the election of Joe and Kamala saved us from the horrible fate of spending four more years under the American equivalent of Adolf Hitler. One can only imagine what loss of civil liberty would have occurred if Trump had been reelected, but we can all rejoice now that Joe has assumed the challenge of driving back the monster.

This is not only how TV networks and the national press depict life under Biden. It is also how our president was portrayed by a lady in her seventies who sat next to me on a recent flight. This lady could not contain her enthusiasm for “the soft manner” in which Joe speaks to us, which stands in sharp contrast to the “nasty, shrill” way in which Trump riled up his audiences. Never mind that unlike The Donald, Biden and Harris play the race, gender, and LGBT cards constantly and cynically, call all whites “systemically racist,” and shout “Jim Crow” whenever Republicans stand in their way.

The media work hard to make Joe and Kamala look nice and caring, and this nice image is now implanted in at least half of our voting population. This should concern those of us who consider the present administration to be utterly disastrous and who would like to believe that most Americans share our perception. Because of the public relations investment made by the media and other opinion-forming institutions in the U.S., Biden and Harris continue to enjoy popular esteem. One wonders what kind of face-lift the media are planning for congressional Democrats in 2022. They could not possibly do a better job than the one they have done for Joe.

Paul Gottfried

Paul Gottfried

Paul Gottfried is editor in chief of Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture. He is also the Raffensperger Professor of Humanities Emeritus at Elizabethtown College, where he taught for 25 years, a Guggenheim recipient, and a Yale Ph.D. He is the author of 13 books, most recently Fascism: Career of a Concept and Revisions and Dissents.

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U.S., Biden and Harris continue to enjoy popular esteem....How do you know this is true? When suppression of discontent is so rampant, how do you know anything they are saying is real? Seems to me you are assuming a lot....In the meantime FB continues its clampdown, parler is basically wiped out...Twitter is toothless and Youtube has been scrubbed.


His numbers have slipped a bit since a month ago when Gottfried was published in that American Thinker piece. Whether it's enough to matter, we'll see. It is amazing to me the number of people who still take MSM journalism seriously. For all their talk of how they've spent their career fighting journalism bias, the useless and hapless of Conservatism, Inc. defend them from time to time just as much liberals do. Every six months Kevin Williamson of NRO or Jonah Goldberg of the Dispatch will publish some absurd piece arguing how "most of the time, most journalists are honest people just doing the best that they can, blah, blah, etc.". What a load of garbage. And they are worse now than ever, by far. They certainly must've cheerlead for Jimmy Carter over Ronald Reagan back in 1980 but I don't remember it well being just a kid, but certainly the American people saw through it as look at the results of that election and in 1984. Nowadays...perhaps we are that much less educated and easily impressionable as a people, with a million TV channels, all left-wing save Newsmax, FNC and OANN, which aren't right-wing per se, but aren't leftist. As well as handpicked narratives of "news" from Apple and Facebook feeds that under 30s consume. Is it our deteriorating education in the last 40 yrs., our demographic transformations to a country with much larger chunks of people who don't even understand English well? Who knows? Not exactly encouraging for out future, to put it mildly.


Account Photo
A scientific nature vs. nurture analysis needs to be applied to the differences between conservatives and leftists. The mass media has a huge influence on people's beliefs and perceptions but it's uncanny how two siblings raised in the same family with the same value system can turn out diametrically opposite in their politics by young adulthood. The woman on the flight you spoke to has her beliefs coded into her DNA, there is no amount of reasoning, evidence and persuasion that would lead her to oppose leftism (Biden personally maybe, but not the worldview). Some people have analyzed these differences through an evolutionary psychology perspective but these attempts are anonymous and done by amateur enthusiasts. Were the differences truly proven to be genetic it would open the wounds of division in the US even further, but it would be progress over the current name-calling of "stupid", "idiot", or worse, that one side uses against the other. Some leftists already believe conservatives are sub-human and we know where that leads.


Spirit of the Fighting 69th
Having spent most of a career dealing with the media, the older ones have some substance but most of the newer journalists are shallow and lazy never analyzing a source. How else could they accept at face value the lies of the DNC, the SPLC and ignore the violence of BLM while going bonkers over Jan 6?