I think there are several things at work here.

1) There's the "working the refs" theory. The press goes after Democrats because for decades now the right wing has been shoving the charge of "liberal bias' down their throats, to the point where they reflexively avoid anything framing any story about Democrats in too positive a fashion. (Fox News, Talk Radio, Social Media, "Fake News" - it's all part of the right wing strategy to discredit the press and intimidate it into irrelevance.)

2) "Fair and balanced", "Both Sides" reporting. The press tries to avoid controversy (see point 1) by trying to report in ways that cancel out good/bad news for both sides. Every argument or fact that supports one side must be countered by something from the other side - whether or not it is actually equivalent - that negates it. And (point 1 again), the net result usually ends up favoring the right wing, because it downplays good news for Democrats and obscures bad news for Republicans. The classic critique of this kind of reporting is "It's not the job of the press to just report one side says its raining and the other side says it's not - the job of the press should be to look out the window and report what the weather is actually doing."

3) There seems to be a conviction among reporters that straight reporting does not allow for value judgements. Report the 'facts' and let viewers decide. The problem with that is that deciding what is and what is not a fact involves making a judgement. The rise of alternative 'facts' makes judgement-free reporting an exercise in disinformation - no one can tell what to believe when all 'facts' cancel each other out.

4) Follow the money. Consolidation in newsrooms, mergers and buy-outs - traditional journalism is under more and more pressure to do one thing: make money for the owners of media outlets. News becomes infotainment. Headlines are written to be click bait. The worth of a story is how many ads can be shoved into it before readers/viewers turn away. And god help the reporter who sets off an outrage spasm on the right.

5) There's also the "News" problem. As Terry Pratchett observed through Lord Vetinari in "The Truth", people don't want 'News', they want 'Olds'. They want to hear things that prove they 'know' what is going on. They want to hear things that tell them world will be the same tomorrow as it is today. They want to hear things that reinforce their beliefs, not challenge them.

6) Let's not forget one other thing. America is currently afflicted with an authoritarian cult in the place of what used to be a not entirely insane Republican Party. This is one of those inconvenient truths the press would rather not report. (See points 2 and 3 above.) They insist on treating liars and sociopaths as reasonable people. They look the other way out of willful blindness and because their paychecks depend on it. And then they're shocked on January 6 when they find their lives are in danger from these 'real Americans' whose views they have been so solicitous of?

7) Short attention span reporting - there is no past, no context - only what happened a minute ago. The actions of Donald Trump as President make a lot more sense when viewed through the historic GOP record. Has everyone forgotten Nixon sabotaged the Paris Peace Talks? His secret bombing? All the other things? How about Reagan and the Arms for Hostages deal with Iran? The misadventures in Central America? The suspicions about his mental fitness? The execrable Bush 1 and 2 regimes? You can't understand the present if you ignore the past - but the press does it all the time.

This is a long comment, but I hope I've covered most of what's driving the way the press works. That's my take; YMMV.

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CV-19 continues to rage because of people who won't get vaccinated and won't wear masks. The Biden administration has made vaccinations abundantly available and urged indoor mask wearing. Adding that particular 1+1, the media gets 3, and blames Biden. That's what happens when wanna be novelists get hired as reporters.

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Why does Chris Cillizza still have a job? In reporting about a CBO report that gave the impression the ACA would cost 2 million jobs when what it was likely to do was enable people who were holding on to jobs just for the insurance to quit, Cillizza, rather than trying to help readers understand the report, wrote about how it was such bad news for Democrats. His excuse was:

“My job is to assess not the rightness of each argument but to deal in the real world of campaign politics in which perception often (if not always) trumps reality. I deal in the world as voters believe it is, not as I (or anyone else) thinks it should be.”


Shorter version — “My job isn’t to inform the public, just to report on perceptions/“optics”. Who cares that our democracy depends on people being accurately informed about issues, amirite?”

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Chris Cillizza is the Chuck Todd of Kasie Hunts.

Sadly, that joke format is way too easy to do with our pundits. And seriously, these people are not journalists, they are pundits.

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Holy cow. Are Cillizza et al working to tank the Biden administration because he’s too boring? He doesn’t send chills up their legs vis a vis Chris Matthew’s ridiculed quote? Same ole same ole as Sky person states; I think I’m in the Eric tactic camp, ie bombard them w/criticism and put a spotlight on the lousy and hollow reporting they are engaging in and keep doing it. Meanwhile I’m w/Theodora, finding other HONEST, ACCURATE news sources to take the place of msm ‘no news here, just distortion, exaggeration, misreporting. Shame on the whole lot of them.

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Mr. Boehlert,

Hopelessly off topic I know; but have you looked at CNN’s coverage of the debt ceiling? “Both-sides-ism” at its very worst.

Republicans unilaterally passed the Trump tax cuts; reducing income.

Democrats unilaterally passed spending programs.

Republicans divided on raising the debt ceiling two years ago, in the Trump Administration.

Republicans unanimously oppose raising the debt ceiling in the Biden Administration. Or for that matter the Obama Administration.

Democrats favored increases all three times.


There is plenty of hypocrisy on both sides!?


Sorry for the intrusion on your time.

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The Politico crap trending on Twitter this morning is pathetic...and your response to it is very good Eric.

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Well stated Eric! The Liberally Biased Mainstream Media™ might be a bigger threat to American democracy going forward than the Republican Party, because they can mold and influence people to their views. Chris Cillizza and Chuck Todd are among the worst bullshit artists out there!

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A small quibble Mr. Boehlert. After his first week in office; Trumps' approval ratings dropped to 40% and stayed there. Anchored in cement. Seriously, and leaving out Rasmussen, for the almost four years of his Presidency, Trump's didn't swing more that 2% up or down. They just sat there. I argued that Trump's approval literally never changed and the variations were poling noise.

I do recall any number of stories on Trump's approval polling; no stories of the plummet in Trump approval since it never happened.

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This just shows how successfully the leftist media propaganda undermines the clueless American public. How sad for this country.

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It’s the same story every week. American media sucks, it’s full of right-wing bias everywhere thanks to the corporations that own it. Understood.

So what’s going to fix this? Can we do anything besides being depressed at how much American journalism doesn’t work anymore?

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“Biden’s summertime slide has been fueled by *mainstream misreporting on* Afghanistan and Covid, two unique and pressing challenges.”


Not to defend the mainstream press but it may well be possible that Trump’s consistently low approval #s — I recall it breaking 50% just once, probably a Ramussen (so.) poll — caused them to forget that a POTUS’ numbers normally fluctuate a lot. I mean, any cohort that puts Kasie Hunt in charge of setting up a streaming service, well, you know, such people are surely limited.

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