Media organizations need content to fill their publications every day, which is difficult during news voids over long holiday weekends like Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, my email from Politico Playbook last Sunday contained several “filler” articles that primarily focused on Democratic failures while mostly ignoring Republican obstruction and malfeasance. They were about politicians “falling short of promises or expectations, or just plain blowing it.”
First up was how President Biden fell short by “Failing to tame the pandemic and provide a return to normalcy.” This conclusion was supported by brief summaries of articles by the Washington Post’s Dan Balz and the New York Time’s Nate Cohn. Both predicted a tough election year ahead for the president.
Baltz outlined Biden’s promises of taming the coronavirus pandemic, fixing the economy, persuading Congress to enact his sweeping domestic policy and unifying the country. He concluded that “none of these goals has been fully accomplished, and that shapes the political environment heading into next year’s midterm elections.”
Cohn analyzed the disconnect between Biden’s popular policies and his low approval rating. He opined that while voters may punish presidents for pushing unpopular policies, they rarely reward them for enacting legislation. What the public is seeking, according to Cohn, is “peace and prosperity — in a word, normalcy.”
I suspect most Playbook readers skimmed through those summaries and continued scrolling down to other news. After clicking on the provided links and reading these columnist’s lengthy articles, however, I had to wonder why WaPo and the NYT are always chided as being the “liberal press.” While their content may be factually correct, it only told part of the story.
Balz’s full article provided some details about the rising coronavirus cases, and stated that “there have been more deaths so far in 2021 than in the whole of 2020,” a fact that many readers might assume is Biden’s fault. (That’s what Republican politicians claim.) From there, he segwayed into how Biden’s hope to vaccinate the vast majority of the population had fallen short and how the president’s vaccine mandates had worsened political divisions, as the administration struggled to overcome vaccine resistance.
Balz did give Biden some credit for getting the $1.9 trillion stimulus package and the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill enacted with very slim majorities in Congress. He observed, however, that these accomplishments did not garner the expected political credit and that perceptions of the president’s leadership had, “taken a hit.” A casual reader of this article could get the impression that this legislation was the cause of the “worse inflation in three decades.”
Balz did criticize former president Trump and Republicans who called for punishing their 13 colleagues who voted for the infrastructure bill. Yet, he stated in the next paragraph that Biden had become almost as polarizing as Trump.
Baltz concluded his article with an oft heard observation that Biden and the White House are struggling with their messaging. After reading it I can better understand why.
Cohn began his article by stating that many Democrats believe that electoral success will result from enacting popular legislation. Then he went on to dispel that theory by reminding readers that the president’s approval ratings have dropped into the mid-40s. He cited polls showing that Americans not only feel that the president hasn’t accomplished much or helped them personally, they believe he has actually made things worse. These ridiculous conclusions are also supported by some polls I have analyzed. For God’s sake people, Biden has signed two massive bills before completing his first year in office, including the largest infrastructure legislation in decades.
In addition to Biden’s shortcomings being highlighted extensively in the Playbook email, the Democratic Party was cited for having failed to deliver on promised immigration fixes and the Never-Trump Lincoln Project was chided for “Too many instances [of falling short] to name in a clause.” Yet, the only criticism of Donald Trump – if it can be called that – involved his endorsement of several Senate candidates that are failing.
But here’s the thing. The editors of Sunday’s Political Playbook email did not take the GOP or its leadership to task for much of anything. Still, perhaps they didn’t cover the blatantly anti-democratic conduct by Republicans at all levels of government because they certainly haven’t fallen short on that.
The worst omission in Sunday’s Playbook email, however, was failing to highlight the role of Republicans in obstructing the president’s efforts to make good on his promises, like controlling the coronavirus, vaccinating the populace and unifying the people. Neither did it emphasize what great progress has been made since January 21 in various areas, including the economy.
The Politico organization is not rated as politically biased that I could find, right or left. Yet, this entire Sunday email reminded me of what the GOP and conservative media, like Fox News, do constantly – keep the focus on Democrats, emphasize their failures and gloss over or omit any mention of negative news that might damage Republicans.
Certainly, the mainstream media should report fairly on the president’s accomplishments and failures. But I believe many news outlets are “falling short” in fully focusing on the most critically important issue facing our democratic republic today: Trump and the majority of congressional Republicans are attempting to subvert our democratic processes in an effort to take total control of government at all levels. And there damn sure won’t be any “normalcy” for the nation if they succeed.