Image Credits: Nick Thompson.
I saw this joke on Reddit, and it not only made me laugh, it focused my thinking.
The President invites the Pope to lunch on a boat. The Pope accepted and during lunch, a puff of wind blew the pontiff’s hat off, right into the water. It floated off about 50 feet, then the wind died down and it just floated in place.
The crew and the Secret Service were scrambling to launch a boat to go get it, when Biden waved them off, saying, “Never mind boys, I’ll get it.”
Then Joe climbed over the side of the yacht, walked on the water to the hat, picked it up, walked back on the water, climbed into the yacht, and handed the Pope his hat.
The crew was speechless. The security team and the Pope’s entourage were speechless. No one knew what to say, not even the Pope.
But that afternoon, ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, MSNBC, NPR, and PBS reported:
“BIDEN CAN’T SWIM”
Like a lot of us, I suspect, I made a conscious choice not to watch the news and what passes for “analysis” after the November 2 off-year elections, and the loss in Virginia. I saw a few headlines—”DEMOCRATS IN DISARRAY!” “BIDEN AGENDA SINKING!!!” “COLLAPSE OF BIDEN PRESIDENCY IMMINENT!!1!”—and muttered to myself, “not today, Satan.”
I don’t want to be some kind of Pollyanna, and I’m sure Martin or Nancy will drop by later with some sobering exploration of what happened/what’s happening, but as for me, I’m sick of the knee-jerk, boneheaded hot takes that have prematurely declared Biden’s presidency a failure ever since he announced his candidacy in 2016. As I remember it, Biden was NEVER going to beat Bernie Sanders, according to the loudest voices with the biggest platforms. And then I remember he was NEVER going to beat Trump, according to those same people. He was going to disappoint progressives by siding with centrists: oops (don’t get me started on the media blaming progressives for the impasse on Biden’s Build Back Better plan—it’s TWO assholes holding it up, and it ain’t progressives). And so on and so forth.
Look, I get it. Even our better legacy media outlets—and that’s using the word “better” VERY loosely—are center-right. They’ve been stuck in the “Democrats are weak” narrative since 1980. From what I read on the daily, very few of the people reporting and analyzing have any apprehension of how our government works, or even basic knowledge and understanding of history and political science, lending credence to the advice Tucker Carlson’s dad once gave him: “You should consider journalism, they’ll take anybody.” I wonder if Chris Cillizza, Chuck Todd, Kasie Hunt, and the rest of the babbling cadavers received the same suggestion from their exasperated parents.
Speaking of exasperation, I received several emails and texts yesterday which expressed exactly that frustration with what passes as reporting. “So the Dems held onto the NJ gov in an off year for the first time since 1977 and didn’t exactly get crushed in VA. So why is the media hysterical?” wrote my friend Paul, a blue collar guy who works at my hometown’s water department. “Such a bullshit double standard. It seems the exact opposite narrative is true. The GOP should be fucking shitting their depends.”
“Can I just say the Washington Post can fuck right off with its breathless, ever-panicked horse race analysis? Their landing page is a disgrace,” added my friend Tim, a former journalist at Thompson-Reuters. “I know Youngkin beat McCauliffe, and the Blue firing squad is going at it full charge, but Virginia is an awful, awful place and we still hung onto New Jersey.”
My friend went on, “It’s like Jerry Springer or the ghost of Morton Downey Jr. is running the WaPo news thrust, bottomless barrels of proverbial gasoline at the ready. Dan Sinker nailed it today with this tweet: ‘I like that Trump got four years to wreak absolute havoc every single day but Biden’s cooked after 11 months because a governor lost in Virginia.'”
So while I’m not blind to the perils Democrats face, I know I’m not the only one simultaneously bored and yet deeply annoyed by the poor quality of coverage in the small sample I read yesterday. Same old predictions of failure. Same old stereotypes. Same old obfuscation. Same old shallow horse-race reporting. Same old conventional wisdom. “This is great news for John McCain.” YAWN.
John Prine really nailed it when he sang about blowing up the TV and throwing away your paper—which is probably owned by Gannett anyway, and thus not serving its community as anything more than an envelope for the grocery store’s weekly circular.