The press shrugs — how Biden made beating Covid look easy
No media victory laps
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The welcome announcement from New Jersey this week that fully vaccinated people there will no longer have to wear masks inside stores and that indoor sporting events can soon return to 100 percent capacity, in a state that was hit especially hard by the Covid-19 virus, was just the latest, sweeping example of America emerging from the pandemic. With 130 million Americans fully vaccinated, and millions of children soon to join the ranks, the country is putting the pandemic in the rearview mirror.
It’s been a miraculous worst-to-first turnaround under President Joe Biden, who inherited a Covid crisis at its zenith, with nearly 3,000 American deaths each day. It was a virus calamity that had been mismanaged nearly every day of 2020 by Trump and his virus-denying advisors.
Trashing science and urging people to inject bleach into their bodies, Trump oversaw the worst government response to a public health crisis in U.S. history — 400,000 Americans likely died because of Trump’s incompetence. He spread more deliberate lies about Covid to a larger audience than anyone else on the planet, according to a study from Cornell University. "When it gets a little warmer, it miraculously goes away," he once predicted.
Under Biden, that nightmare has been turned into an American success story, as the vaccination rollout continues to be a model for the world.
That victory was not pre-ordained. Back in January, the Christian Science Monitor noted, “He faces steep obstacles, with the virus actively spreading in most states, slow progress on the vaccine rollout, and political uncertainty over whether congressional Republicans will help him pass a $1.9 trillion economic relief and COVID-19 response package.”
But Biden pulled it off, far exceeding expectations. So how come he never got a victory lap in the press? Why has the media decided to instantly move on from one of the biggest news stories of the last century — how Covid-19 crippled America and killed more than 600,000 people here. Has the Beltway press in the Biden era simply adopted the mantra that only bad news is real news? Politico actually posted this April headline: "How Good News Could Complicate the Biden Agenda." Note that just 25 percent of Biden’s early news coverage was positive, according to a study from Pew.
The migrant surge at the border? That’s considered big news by the media, and Biden was personally responsible for it. The cyber-attack on the Colonial Pipeline, fighting in the Middle East, a disappointing April jobs report. All of those stories received excited coverage in recent weeks, while Biden’s stunning vaccination success receives mostly shrugs.
There’s clearly a partisan angle to this, because by turning away from Biden’s Covid victory, the press is following the GOP’s lead. Republicans have no interest in dwelling on America’s stunning vaccination turn-around, and apparently neither does the press. During Biden’s inaugural press conference, he wasn’t asked a single question about Covid, which had dominated American life for 15 months. That, despite the fact that the press conference featured Biden announcing that the new goal was to have 200 million Americans receive a shot within the first 100 days of his presidency — an unthinkable benchmark compared to the national embarrassment the vaccine rollout had been under Trump.
Today, rather than acknowledging Biden’s stunning Covid accomplishment, the press is racing ahead to flag all the looming problems the White House supposedly faces, while often completely ignoring the startling pandemic win. “Biden Battles New Crises as Honeymoon Fades,” NBC’s “Meet the Press” recently announced.
The Washington Post this week warned that Biden’s “big agenda is imperiled as his priorities stall in Congress,” without mentioning that the number one priority on Biden’s agenda — safely reopening the country — has already been achieved with miraculous speed.
CNN posted a nearly simultaneous dispatch, about the slow-motion state of Biden’s legislative agenda, claiming it was causing distress among progressive Democrats. (CNN politely glossed over the fact that radical GOP obstruction is what has slowed the agenda.) Nowhere in the 1,400-word piece was there mention of Biden’s Covid accomplishments.
Incredibly, when the White House’s pandemic win is referenced, it’s sometimes framed as bad news for Biden, as this recent Politico headline demonstrates: “Vaccines' Success Could Undercut Biden's Multibillion-Dollar School Testing Plans.” And from the Post: “Biden’s Vaccination Success Story is About To Run Into a World of Pressure.”
The New York Times this week stressed that the post-Covid economic recovery is so strong that it’s creating problems for the White House: “State Revenues Pour In, Raising Pressure on Biden to Divert Federal Aid.”
The vaccination rollout has been too successful, basically. For Biden, it’s more heads you lose, tails you lose coverage.
(Photo Alex Wong/Getty Images)
🗞 GOOD STUFF:
Repercussions continue to be felt from the AP firing a young reporter last week after she became the target of a right-wing smear campaign for tweets she posted in college, with the wire service announcing it will review its social media policy for employees.
From the AP:
The Associated Press said Monday that it is launching a review of its social media policies after questions were raised about last week’s firing of one of its journalists who had expressed pro-Palestinian views.
That announcement came hours after more than 100 AP journalists signed a letter expressing concern about how former news associate Emily Wilder was treated. The journalists want more clarity in what can be said on forums like Twitter and Facebook and faith the company would protect them from pressure campaigns.
🎤 FUN STUFF — BECAUSE WE ALL NEED A BREAK
Bob Dylan, “Mississippi”
In honor of his 80th birthday this week, this is my go-to for favorite Dylan song, which is an almost impossible category to create because of the embarrassment of riches to choose from.
From his 2001 album, Love and Theft, the slow-moving and majestic classic “Mississippi” remains a mystery, like most of the Dylan greats. Fun fact: Sheryl Crow released an uptempo version that sounds great when the car windows are down. (Here’s a great Dixie Chicks version, too.)
Well, I ain't got nothing for you, I had nothing before
Don't even have anything for myself anymore
Sky is full of fire, rain is pouring down
There's nothing you can sell me, I'll see you around
🎙 Click here to listen to the music that’s been featured on PRESS RUN, via a Spotify playlist.
Click hereto listen via Apple Music.