Was Biden right? Or was Biden wrong? The national media won’t say

I am not a fan of contemporary fact checking. By doling out insipid critiques of minutiae, today’s fact-checkers actually obscure the crucial question of who is credible and who is not.

But I would have loved to have seen some fact checks of President Biden‘s Thursday night address on the threats to democracy posed by MAGA Republicanism.

Was he right? Or was he wrong?

The journalistic imperative was to ask and answer.

Biden sounded the alarm Thursday night. Was he right or was he wrong?

Biden said what’s going on is not normal. Was he right or was he wrong?

Biden said MAGA Republicans “promote authoritarian leaders, and they fan the flames of political violence that are a threat to our personal rights, to the pursuit of justice, to the rule of law, to the very soul of this country.” Was he right or was he wrong?

Biden said MAGA Republicans “refuse to accept the results of a free election, and are taking steps to undermine them going forward.” Was he right or was he wrong?

Biden said MAGA Republicans see the insurrectionists who violently attempted to disrupt the transition of power as patriots. Was he right or was he wrong?

Biden said “America is at an inflection point — one of those moments that determine the shape of everything that’s to come after.” Was he right or was he wrong?

Any half-way reality-based fact check would have ruled: True, true, true, true, true, true.

But there were no such fact-checks. There were no fact-checks at all. Because the national media does not want to engage those questions head-on.

I wasn’t surprised. (Were you?)

Well before the actual speech, it was clear that Biden’s sounding of the alarm for American democracy  would also be an implicit reproach of the mainstream media, for its failure to do so.

So instead of directly addressing the substance of his speech, our elite political reporters stuck to their way of doing things: They marginalized any mention of the threat to democracy as a purely partisan attack (political, yes, partisan, no); they cast the speech as a tired campaign move (see, e.g., Peter Baker); they raised quibbles about the optics (see, e.g., Brianna Keilar. They also downplayed it, like it didn’t really mater

Whether the nation heard what Biden was saying has yet to be seen. But the nation’s most influential political reporters couldn’t hear it – they literally could not take it in — because it would have meant acknowledging how far from truth-telling they have fallen.

Postscript: One national correspondent was willing to say it was all true. CNN’s veteran White House correspondent John Harwood had this to say at 10 a.m. on Friday:

The core point he made in that political speech about a threat to democracy is true. Now, that’s something that’s not easy for us, as journalists, to say. We’re brought up to believe there’s two different political parties with different points of view and we don’t take sides in honest disagreements between them. But that’s not what we’re talking about. These are not honest disagreements. The Republican Party right now is led by a dishonest demagogue. Many, many Republicans are rallying behind his lies about the 2020 election and other things as well. And a significant portion — or a sufficient portion — of the constituency that they’re leading attacked the Capitol on January 6th. Violently. By offering pardons or suggesting pardons for those people who violently attacked the Capitol, which you’ve been pointing out numerous times this morning, Donald Trump made Joe Biden’s point for him. 

He announced at noon that he was no longer with CNN. A source with knowledge about Harwood’s situation told me that Harwood was informed last month that Friday would be his last day, even though he was on a long-term contract. “He used one of his last live-shots to send a message,” the source told me.


  1. Damn it, yet another pundit ignores the fact that most network television networks did not carry Biden’s speech, some claiming it was too much like a campaign speech.

    Let’s talk about why the press chose to silence our president, shall we?

  2. I agree 100% with Marycat. Not one of the alphabet network “news” rooms deemed this vital speech worthy of coverage, and this after 4 years of breathless interruptions any time the orange menace so much as farted. Corporate media is corporate America, and corporate America and the billionaires own the press. There is no longer a 4th Estate, only a Plutocratic Press. Their goal is no longer to inform the public, but to keep us divided and misinformed long enough for the fucking Nazi-emulating Republican party to seize power and end this annoyance of Democracy once and for all. The rich are at war with Democracy and our formerly free press that they now own has been weaponized against the public. An informed electorate is not something the billionaires and corporations will tolerate. I say we no longer tolerate the billionaires. They should live in terror of the public they manipulate. The French had the only real solution to metastasized hoarded wealth in the hands of vicious aristocrats. It’s time to take out the trash in America. Death to the rabid rich.

    • However as I write this, MSNBC is broadcasting live from the site of tonight’s Trump rally in Wilkes-Barre hours before it begins. They are interviewing the MAGA crowd. Either they don’t believe that it was this kind of TV attention that gave Trump such a boost in the2016 primaries or they just want to do it again so they can cover what they see as just an exciting horse race again. Or maybe it’s another example of faux balance to make up for having covered Biden’s speech live this week. It’s despicable.

      • I forgot to add that the WaPo editors displayed a serious case of the vapors in today’s editorial slamming Biden for being too partisan in his speech this week. They confuse partisanship with truth-telling.

    • Well said, however, I would leave off the last sentence. It sounds to much like what the other side says when they incite murder and violence with their language. I hope we can save the democracy.

    “We enter the Reichstag to arm ourselves with the weapons of democracy. If democracy is foolish enough to give us free railway passes and salaries, that is its problem. It does not concern us. Any way of bringing about the revolution is fine by us.”

    The lynchpin of Democracy is all sides get a hearing and seat at the table. However when one side wants to destroy democracy does that apply? Why yes it does per the well worn habits of our profit seeking press, since 1922 when fascism emerged as the answer to communism. After all two thirds of the US populace is sympathetic to fascism, as long as it isn’t called fascism and sure enough, it never is from the NY Times , especially the NY Times, on down.

    This will continue to play out as it has since WWII ended, until the blood starts to flow. Well probably until quite a bit of blood has flowed.

  4. mr. froomkin, you cannot let pass the world’s most stupid op-ed, the wapo editorial board’s entry that says, in effect, we agree with everything biden said, but he was being too partisan. if ever there was a on-the-one-hand-and-on-the-other piece of garbage, that was it — and in an op-ed, not a news story, where it might at least have been understandable. puhleeze comment on this one.

    • I posted the same complaint above. That article was a disgrace especially their objection to Biden’s use of the term
      “semi-fascist”. Trump and his supporters tick all the boxes of the hallmarks of fascism experts on the subject have described.

      Today the Obamas are finally getting their portraits unveiled at the White House, a tradition Trump unsurprisingly refused to honor. So today the WaPo has chosen this article to smear that happy occasion:
      “ As Obamas visit White House on Wednesday, tensions linger between Obama, Biden camps:
      The event will showcase the Obama-Biden friendship, but beneath the surface, their camps are at odds over credit and style.”

      More WaPo faux balance using the “Democrats in disarray” frame, a favorite of the mainstream “liberal” media when reporting about those silly kids, the Democrats. That kind of trivializing of Democrats has done a lot of damage to the image of the Democratic Party and makes it clear that our twisted mainstream media views the normal types of disagreements that always occur in a healthy democracy as dysfunctional. It has been clear for a long time that they prefer a party whose members follow the leader in lock step the way most Republicans did under Reagan, Bush and Cheney, and Trump. The mainstream media is really impressed by a leader that commands that kind of blind loyalty. They see those leaders as strong, manly men.


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