Benjamin Franklin once noted that “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Perhaps it is time to update this wise lament by adding a third immortal factor: The media will always support a Democrat president. As the classified document drama continues to unfold, it has become apparent that – for now – President Biden can do no wrong. After all, if his taking of top secret documents had reached the level of malfeasance, surely it would be the main topic of discussion in the annals of the Fourth Estate?
Parsing the Headlines
A brief selection of the top headlines from the “usual suspects” reveals an effort to minimize the actions of Joe Biden, deflect blame to White House staffers, and bring attention back to those of former President Donald Trump.
CNN – despite recent declarations that the network was attempting to be more bipartisan – presented the following headlines for its audience edification:
- “Biden’s whirlwind final days as vice president had aides scrambling to close his White House office”
- “There are clear distinctions between Trump and Biden’s two cases”
- “Biden’s documents drama gives Republicans a fresh narrative to use against him”
- “Biden’s document scandal eats away at efforts to hold Republicans accountable”
None of the articles above hold Biden personally to account for taking, moving, and poorly storing documents of a classified nature. The authors did, however, take the opportunity to attempt a touch of Orwellian language distraction. As Liberty Nation reported recently:
“[T]he ‘most trusted name in news’ attempted to muddy the waters by referring to classified documents as ‘vice presidential documents’ in numerous instances. Naturally, the documents that Donald Trump took to Mar-a-Lago were not referred to as ‘presidential documents.'”
But CNN was certainly not alone in its deflections.
A Media Narrative Begins to Form
Other outlets put forth a similar message, most notably by presenting a faux-analysis of the differences between the two stories:
- “How Biden’s discovery of classified files compares with the Trump case”
- “The GOP can’t slam Biden on classified documents without condemning Trump”
- “Here’s What Is Different About The Biden And Trump Classified Documents News”
As evidenced, the official line from the legacy media has moved swiftly to attempting a nuanced dichotomy of, essentially, Why Biden is good and Trump bad. This trope was articulated quite succinctly by The View host Joy Behar who said the quiet part out loud: “We all know that Trump is a liar and a thief… We don’t think Biden is a liar and a thief, so we give him the benefit of the doubt.”
Organizations such as PolitiFact took this idea and ran with it, sourcing and quoting “experts” on what distinctions exist between the two men’s situations. “Accidental misplacement of classified documents after government service would not necessarily rise to the level of a crime, experts say,” the outlet reports. Concluding the article, the authors write:
“Because he’s now serving as president, ‘Biden cannot be prosecuted while he is in office,’ said James Robenalt, an attorney with the firm Thompson Hine who has studied government legal scandals dating back to Watergate in the 1970s. Trump, as a private citizen, can be prosecuted.”
Robenalt’s bias, however, appears evident from his Twitter timeline, in which Republicans are denounced, and Democrats lauded. Hardly a disinterested observer.
A Bias That Lasts
The American public is not as open to propaganda as the Fourth Estate might think. When millions of viewers cancel subscriptions, change channels, and switch to more boutique news outlets, it is not because they are seeking echo chambers but because they demand the opposite. Fresh opinions, precise analysis, and, most importantly, non-tribal writing are the new currency. Big box media outlets lost a combined $500 billion in 2022, and yet the industry as a whole continues to grow.
It is not through conformity that the non-legacy media expands and retains its readership but by its discernment. President John Kennedy warned that “Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.” But his wise words do not quite capture the motivation behind the mass compliance of today’s journalistic clones. Instead, perhaps we should turn to psychologist Rollo May, who suggested, “The opposite of courage in our society is not cowardice; it’s conformity.”
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