That line on Twitter, from a Democratic surrogate, was reposted by Biden campaign senior adviser T.J. Ducklo, who’s been leading the charge with complaints about the way the press covers Donald Trump and the Capitol riot.
And Ducklo has plenty of company. White House Deputy Press Secretary, in his own post on X, asked: “How – after all the tens of thousands of fact checks and the reams of investigative stories exposing Trump as the most dishonest former president in American history – are mainstream outlets still actively helping him gaslight their readers and viewers?”
President Biden and his team are increasingly frustrated with the media’s coverage of his predecessor, and trying to do something about it.
Semafor reports that “Biden’s reelection campaign has begun organizing a series of trips for top political reporters and editors to the team’s headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware and meet senior officials, including the campaign manager, deputies, and other high-ranking advisers for background briefings on campaign strategy.
“They’re also using it as an opportunity to tell them what they’re getting wrong.”
Every campaign works the refs. But some might find it surprising, given the tsunami of harsh negative stories that engulf Trump every day, that the Biden folks are upset about that coverage.
Journalists have been tough on the president’s awful polls and concerns about his age — but relatively easy otherwise, with some pundits such as David Brooks publishing advice on how he can win.
The view from the Biden team is that discussions about media coverage amount to only a small fraction of these daylong sessions.
Ducklo told me yesterday: “We’re grateful so many folks have reached out expressing interest in visiting our headquarters, and excited to welcome a number of reporters, producers and editors who are covering the 2024 election to Wilmington for what have been and will continue to be thoughtful and informative discussions about the campaign’s strategy and how we view this election.” Citing Biden’s last two speeches, he said that “democracy and freedom itself–including the freedom of an independent press–are on the line this November and we’re eager to engage in more conversations with the media about how we intend to win this election.”
As for Trump, he dominates the media with his endless court cases and appeals, as well as his fiery language—especially with Biden usually such a low-key presence.
Margaret Sullivan, who now writes for the Guardian after stints as a New York Times and Washington Post media writer, is a liberal activist who despises Trump and long ago endorsed one-sided coverage. She now says journalists shouldn’t worry about being seen as in the tank for Biden and focus less on his poll numbers and presentation and more on how Trump’s threats are authoritarian:
“In a constant show of performative neutrality, journalists tend to equalize the unequal, taking coverage down the middle even though that’s not where true fairness lies.”
Seriously? Whether you like or dislike the former president, he is pounded by the press on his rhetoric (“vermin,” “poisoning of the blood”), his “stolen” election arguments (turned down by every court), and his being booted from the Maine and Colorado ballots (some media liberals are cheering on those Democratic efforts).
To take just one example, here is CNN anchor Jake Tapper on his Sunday show, addressing Trump’s latest term for the Jan. 6 rioters:
“Hostages are the innocent people Hamas kidnapped from Israel and is now holding in Gaza, women and children and at least seven Americans.
These are prisoners, Americans accused and convicted in many cases of crimes related to the January 6 insurrection!” And CNN just re-aired a documentary “AMERICAN COUP: The January 6 Investigation.”
By the way, polls and presentation matter in a campaign.
Maureen Dowd, picking up on Sullivan’s piece, says in the New York Times that “thanks to Trump, journalists can be festooned with gold — lucrative book contracts, TV deals and speaking gigs. The man who enriched himself with millions from foreign states and royalty seeking favors from the United States has the power to enrich us, too. He’s a once-in-a-lifetime story, the outlandish star of an even bigger reality show than his last.”
All true. But it still seems to me that Trump’s language (“dictator for a day” and so on) is ripped to shreds, especially on MSNBC, for one news cycle after another until the next uproar comes along.
The Biden campaign believes that too much media attention is placed on Trump as a defendant–the indictments, of course, have to be covered–and not enough on Trump as a presidential candidate, such as when he says he would use DOJ against his enemies.
Sources told Semafor that “during meetings with reporters for the New York Times, Washington Post and others, campaign officials have invoked a coverage spreadsheet laying out areas where the team believes their reporting has fallen short.
“Future meetings are scheduled with ABC, NBC, the Wall Street Journal, FOX, NPR, Reuters and others in Wilmington.”
Meanwhile, the media are confronting a situation where Biden, in his speech near Valley Forge, denounced Trump as “sick,” “echoing” language from “Nazi Germany” and that people died on Jan. 6 because of his “lies.”
The next day, at a rally, Trump said it was Biden who is a “danger to democracy,” and posted yesterday that if the courts rule he has no presidential immunity, “Joe would be ripe for Indictment.”
CNN reports that “as some of the younger aides on Biden’s reelection campaign have been grimly joking, it’s about when to go ‘full Hitler’ – when the leading Republican candidate’s speeches and actions go so far that the Biden team goes all the way to a direct comparison to the Nazi leader rather than couching their attacks by saying Trump ‘parroted’ him.”
On “Fox & Friends” yesterday, Brian Kilmeade said it was Biden in his Friday speech who “went full Hitler” by saying “that Trump is the worst thing ever, will destroy the country.
“But why, if you believe that, why would you do that in January, knowing that we’re going to hear the same thing for nine months? By the time May comes up, we’re not going to hear this.”
So now we’re in a full Hitler showdown.
Ducklo, for his part, isn’t sitting on his hands. He reposted yesterday a tweet from an anti-Trump Washington Post columnist: “Now is no time to feign ‘objectivity’ or indifference to the election result…Biden is doing his part; now the voters and the media must do theirs.”
It feels like October already, but we’ve got 10 months to go.