“President? What President?”

Over the last week it has become clear to me that the nation’s #1 Democratic Party propaganda organ, the New York Times, is trying out a new strategy to mitigate the damage being inflicted on the party’s prospects by the daily botches of the Biden Presidency. I was struck on Sunday that the Times print edition, following a dreadful week for Biden including his bumbling press conference and the continuing fallout from his “Bull Connor” speech in Georgia that was roundly condemned by member of both parties, included no stories about Biden’s performance at all.

There was alleged good news for Biden—Omicron was “easing.” This was in the far right, above the fold column that during the Trump years was almost always some kind of attack on President Trump. There was a story about Russia’s nefarious plans regarding Ukraine (but no mention that Biden had virtually invited him to attack, as long as it was incremental) and China’s offensive Olympics (which Biden refused to boycott); there was the obligatory story about the Jan. 6 “insurrection,” and, at the bottom, a story headlined.” Did the Stimulus Fuel Inflation Rates? A Growing Policy Debate.” This one at least mentioned the President, once. None of the others did.

Today, President Biden’s name doesn’t appear even once on the front page of I don’t have the resources to check, but I doubt there was ever a day during the whole four years of the Trump administration when Trump’s name was not on the front page, usually in a negative headline. I doubt this has happened very often since World War II; maybe never.

To be fair, nothing happened yesterday that would reflect badly on…no wait. There was.

Peter Doocy (above), the nepotism-assisted White House correspondent for Fox News, called out a question as reporters were being hustled out after a brief appearance by the President in the East Room of the White House. Doocy asked, “Do you think inflation is a political liability in the midterms?” Biden who was still near to a live mic, snarled sarcastically, “It’s a great asset. More inflation. What a stupid son of a bitch.”

Of course it was another perfect “Imagine if President Trump did X that the news media is accepting from Biden, or IIPTDXTTNMIAFB , for the mainstream media. Trump’s open contempt for “gotcha!’ reporters and the fake news purveying mainstream news media was portrayed in the Times and elsewhere a more proof of an autocratic bent and a determination to weaken Freedom of the Press. But Trump never engaged in direct ad hominem attacks to the extent of calling a reporter a “stupid son of a bitch.” If he had, I will state without hesitation that it would have been front page news, and probably the topic of multiple op-eds by the Times stable of Trump-haters.

The Times finally got around to noting the exchange on its website, buried as a “Daily Business Briefing.” Gee, I wouldn’t have thought to look for it there!

Doocy, whose question in fact was a bad one and really not a question at all, had the decency to tell Fox News’ Sean Hannity last night that Biden had called him later to say it was “nothing personal.” Sure! Heck, I know when I call someone a dumb son of a bitch it isn’t personal…

First the Times reporter emphasized that Doocy often “needles” the President (thus evoking Rationalization 2 A. Sicilian Ethics, or He had it coming in Biden’s defense). Then he went to full whataboutism mode, reminding readers that George W. Bush, while running for president in 2000, had whispered an insulting description of a Times reporter to Dick Cheney near an open mic, and that Donald Trump had called CNN’s Jim Acosta “rude” and “a terrible person” when the reporter was indeed being rude. None of which mitigated Biden going several steps further into the gutter to slam Doocy.

Not does it excuse the mainstream news media giving Biden a pass that it never gave Trump. That’s the least of what’s going on here, however. The Times and its pals among media sources are working unethically hard to let the public know just how awful this administration is.

As an aside, I don’t comprehend Ann Althouse’s commentary on this incident at all. She writes, “Doocy didn’t need an answer to that question. He was just publicizing an issue that obviously hurts Biden. Biden was presidential enough not to say “Fuck you,” which would have been a completely justified and normal response.”

Really Ann? “Fuck you” would have been a justified response in a nationally televised exchange with the news media? She then adds,

Donald Trump was criticized for lacking civility, it becomes necessary to criticize Biden too, in order to avoid using the kind of hypocrisy I call “civility bullshit.” I still want the tag “civility bullshit,” because it’s a discussion of the problem of the double standard, and because I don’t think Biden is roundly denounced for lacking civility, for degrading the public discourse. I think his roughness is largely tolerated, and it isn’t characterized as a deplorable trend.

…whatever that’s supposed to mean. When the President of the United States replies to criticism with “Fuck you” OR “What a stupid son of a bitch” and it is deemed ‘justified and normal,” we will have finally become Jerry Springer Nation. I wrote in 2015 that Trump’s abandonment of the traditional decorum and demeanor we had previously expected from our leaders would corrupt future generations and the culture. I was right, but that doesn’t justify succeeding Presidents, journalists and blogging law professor making sure it continues.

32 thoughts on ““President? What President?”

  1. The piece I read essentially wrote the incident off as “Joe just being Joe,” saying, he has a penchant for being nasty. What a great excuse, “It’s just his nature.” Nothing to see here. It’s old news. Despicable. But my God, the hypocrisy is stultifying and relentless.

  2. Inflation is out of control, and I, for one, would like to know if the President gives a damn. He does not seem to care, and I think that is perfectly fair grounds for questioning. If the answer to the question matters to the American people, it isn’t a gotcha question. Does he think inflation is going to impact the midterms? If so, why is he making policy decisions that exacerbate the problem? Why hasn’t he changed course on policy? Is inflation just not on his list of things to do? Just because the issue reflects badly on him doesn’t automatically make it an unfair question. Is the press suddenly only allowed to ask questions about things that reflect favorably on him? What is there to ask that reflects favorably on him anyways??? Do you like ice cream and puppies? I don’t give a flying flip about any of that. I want to know why he is letting inflation soar, why he has destabilized the world through his foreign policy decisions, and what exactly is it that is going on inside his head. Does he think this is policy people are going to vote for? If not, why is he continuing down the path? It’s a valid question!!

    The only reason Biden doesn’t say things like this more often is because he almost never talks to the press. He isn’t allowed to talk to the press because of this sort of behavior. If he talked to the press with the same frequency Trump did, the frequency of attacks on the press would be occurring at the same rate as they did under Trump. The attacks themselves would be more ad hominem and more vitriolic.

    • I say it’s a fair question. “Do you think inflation is a political liability in the midterms?” is a loaded question, and almost seems rhetorical – until we remember the number of people in the president’s inner circle who have proclaimed to us that inflation is a GOOD thing. Thelat the rising gas prices are good for us. Skyrocketing food prices are good for us. Empty shelves are not only good for us, but for us to complain simply shows how shallow and materialistic we all are. In light of those statements and attitudes, yes, I would love to hear if the president considers inflation a good thing we should be glad for, or a problem which will be hung around his neck come midterms. Incivility aside, his answer speaks volumes. Of course it isn’t good, it’s bad. But only when the mikes are off and the cameras aren’t rolling.

      • Exactly! It took a hot mic to get anything approaching a real answer, but now we at least know that Biden thinks inflation is a bad thing for him politically. Which raises the question of why the administration has been gaslighting the public about it being a non-issue instead of tackling the issue head on.

  3. He’s like a dumber, cruder, more arrogant version of Obama with 1/3 the brains. The thing is, he can’t hide behind his color, so he hides behind the media.

  4. If you followed the election campaign, you know that Biden is a nasty guy, and when confronted with something he doesn’t like, he will lash out. E.g. “Look here, fat…”, “lying dog faced pony soldier”, “you’re full of shit!”. This is the empathizer/unifier-in-chief we all knew that he is. What really makes me chuckle, is how back in Febuary 2021, one of his staffers, TJ Ducklo, was apparently setting out to “destroy” a reporter for looking into him. He was then put on leave for a week until ultimately resigning. The backdrop was that Biden said if any of his staffers was disrespectful to the press, they would get fired. The hemming and hawing of that episode was ridiculous, with his pledge of respecting the media. Well, based on Biden’s own criteria, he should fire himself. Ah, but he said if any of his staffers were disrespectful. Biden is not his own staffer, so it doesn’t apply! Anyways, let the good times keep on rolling!

  5. Ann Althouse said:

    Doocy didn’t need an answer to that question. He was just publicizing an issue that obviously hurts Biden. Biden was presidential enough not to say “Fuck you,” which would have been a completely justified and normal response.

    Althouse is 66% correct — her first two points are indeed what happened. But point #3 is, without trying to put too fine a point on it, bullshit.

    “Fuck you” would have been a “normal” response from a farmer, a dock worker, a truck driver or even a blogger in middle America. It must never be considered “normal” for the President of the United States to respond to anyone with such a vulgar expletive in public, let alone in a televised news conference. Calling a reporter a “Dumb son of a bitch” is the same thing — unacceptable for a President in any setting but the most private.

    There is no defense for Althouse’s commentary, it is worse than the “civility bullshit” she purports to loathe. Her argument is pure garbage, and should be forthrightly condemned as garbage. This is not how Presidents of the United States speak to American citizens. Period. Full stop. No equivocation.

    • I’ve tried being nasty and uncivil. I’ve tried being incredibly rude. After the first time or two, once the chock value wears off, it just doesn’t get you anywhere..After a while “shut your f—ing mouth you g–d— f—ing s———–,” just becomes tiring.

  6. I don’t see anything wrong with the question. As others have noted above, it’s just a variant of something like “Do you think you’ll be blamed for inflation and suffer in the midterms?”. SloJoe apparently only understood the question in the most literal sense.

    Some reports claim he apologized. He did not; ” It’s not personal ” isn’t “I apologize”. In contrast to Biden’s thin-skinned surliness, Doocy later joked with other Fox staff about whether or not he was indeed a ” stupid son of a bitch “, and if he should have that fact checked.

    • This ranks right up there with Dick Armey referring to (the loathsome, not because he was gay, but because he was a rude, pushy jerk) Barney Frank as “Barney Fag,” then trying to say it was a slip of the tongue. Barney Frank pointed out he asked his mom and no one ever called her Elsie Fag.

  7. The internet really has been the death of traditional media legitimacy. We don’t have to imagine what would happen if Trump did this. He did this. Twice. Donald Trump called two reporters “sonuvabitch”, once on the campaign trail and once after being elected president. The response? Pearl clutching. The response when Joe does it? “Oh, he’s being codgery”. It doesn’t take much exercises to find examples like Conleth Hill’s stunt double on Game Of Thrones, otherwise known as Brian Stelter, over at CNN who figuratively shat themselves over this.

    But to be fair, on the topic of hot mics, I think it’s a Golden Rule issue… If I ever got caught saying something off color when I thought I wasn’t being recorded, I’d hope people would treat it differently than had I just said something flat out. This is perhaps different if the hot mic catches me offering Crimea to Russia if Vlad stops aggravating until after the election. As a random, quirky example. There are limits, I suppose.

    • I am not at all sure that he wasn’t aware that he was on a hot mic. How could he not be? And Biden has had hot mic issues before. In fact, the number of TV and radio personalities who have been ruined by hot mics is legion. I once came THIS CLOSE to a Frank Drebbin with portable mic. Even idiots don’t do it more than once.

  8. I don’t think the New York Times is remotely the most biased of the mainstream media. Over the past year I’ve often noticed that – much more than the Washington Post and other outlets – the NYT will let its reporters dig into stories that don’t necessarily flatter the liberal narrative.

    Today there’s an excellent, prominent story with the following headline: “With Some Voters ‘Ready to Move On,’ Democrats Search for New Message on Virus.” It goes directly into the problem that the Democratic Party fell in too heavily with the teachers’ unions and their excessive demands to keep the schools closed. Elected officials and candidates are now paying the price, as we first saw most evidently in the Virginia gubernatorial election, and the Times story discusses the resulting scrambling in the Democratic Party in this bigger election year. I also have to say that I have no problem finding the Times’ Peter Doocy story in their Politics section, although granted, it may not have been prominent in the print edition yesterday or today.

    I know what part of the problem is here: the New York Times ALSO runs some of the craziest, super-ultra-woke opinion pieces, although it also runs quite a bit of contrary material on the pandemic from both regular columnists and guest experts. I think that colors people’s view of what the Times is, and that’s unfortunate. I’ve also noticed that there are periods where the Times readership will fight tooth and nail in the reader comments against stories that buck the preferred narrative, and yet other times the reader comments will suddenly have a “scales falling from their eyes” tone where some readers will out themselves as being tired of the received narrative – again, most recently on the pandemic.

    The point is, this generalization about the New York Times is not quite right. I very much do not like the problem of bias in the broadcast media, mostly in the form of very limited story selection rather than just opinion, although I also frankly blame viewers since all broadcast and cable media have discovered that people will drift off when “boring” subjects (like foreign affairs) invade their fake-breaking-news narratives on obsessive subjects. So I’m not arguing that there’s isn’t some “liberal bias” in general. I just think that the cliche of holding up the New York Times as the poster child for this is way off. I hope this helps.

    • They let Charles Blow keep spewing his hatred of Trump long after he’d made the point. They fired an editor for daring to run a piece by a GOP senator. I rest my case.

    • Now, now—don’t put words in my mouth that were never there. I NEVER said that the Times was the “most biased” MSM force. Obviously it is not: all the broadcast news networks, including Fox News, are more biased. Yes, so is the Washington Post—this is why, as I have explained here, I pay an obscene amount to have the Times rather than the Post delivered to my door, though I live in the DC area. The Times, if you don’t count it’s constant, now increasingly open, partisan bias, is the best newspaper there is. But that’s a bit like Mayor Barry saying that DC had a pretty admirable crime rate if you don’t count murders.

      What I WROTE, and is true, is that the Times is “the nation’s #1 Democratic Party propaganda organ.” That’s because the other MSM sources quote the Times more than any other sources, it has the most national subscribers, it has the most prestigious op-ed pages, it is the one of only three national papers (the others being the Wall Street Journal, which is focused on business and finance, and USA Today, which is a joke), and it still is the supposed leader and role model for the rest of the MSM.

      Because of this status, it should, more than any other source, be scrupulously unbiased and objective, and a role model. (My position on the college of which a diploma in my home is turned face to the wall is similar: it obviously isn’t the most biased and irresponsible coillege in the nation, but for it to be as biased and irresponsible as it is does the most damage.) It abuses that power, and increasingly so. It’s outright falsehood that Brian Sicknick was killed by the rioters on Jan. 6 was aped by every other source, AND used as evidence in Trump’s second impeachment trial. (MISTRIAL!) The fact that it ignored the sexual assault accusation against Biden for three weeks effectively silenced his accuser. The fact that it refused to cover the Hunter Biden laptop story at a crucial point in the campaign gave Biden much needed cover, and allowed the rest of the MSM to style the story as “misinformation.” There are hundreds of similar examples archived here, and literally thousands more since 2016.

      You’re just dead, dead wrong here, Friend. You’re not even close. And those who give the Times cover for its abuse of its power and influence by denying what is undeniable prevent any serious address to the problem and the damage it does.

      • I’m trying to figure out what I’m “dead, dead wrong” about here when you spend much of your comment agreeing with me that there’s more to the NYT than a lot of people see. Notice that right above your comment is one of your two everyday Steves dismissing the entirety of the New York Times’ output because of one of its columnists who probably none of us like exists, and because of its mistake in apologizing for Tom Cotton’s op-ed in 2020. But that’s all on the opinion pages. There’s so much more to the Times that wallops the coverage in the Washington Post and everywhere else if you just look for it, which Steve announces that he refuses to do. I might add that the other Steve began the week with a long speech on the “voting rights” issue in your comment section that descended right into a piece of “reductio ad Hitlerum” – Goebbels, the big lie – sheesh, what a cliche, man. I mean, it’s the Echo Chamber issue here and I’m trying to help.

        One specific thing in your comment that needs to be amplified is the idea that the other MSM sources repeatedly turn to and cite the New York Times. That’s so, but it’s actually more completely true that EVERYBODY in the media cites the New York Times. It actually is kind of funny, but a great deal of the conservative press will both make fun of the NYT when it suits a story of theirs, but then in the next matter will tee up a different factual situation by saying that it was reported IN THE NEW YORK TIMES (and thus is very credible!). This is not an original observation of mine, yes I’ve seen this irony cited by “liberal” commentators – but it’s accurate, and actually is quite humorous!

        • Not humorous. An untrustworthy source is no more trustworthy because it often writes thorough, accurate reports. That makes its betrayal of the readers worse. It is a set-up. The Times is the best we have, and it’s not nearly good enough. It drags down the rest. When a role model shows no integrity, it is no defense to say, “Well, but it’s honest most of the time!”

          • Not just “thorough and accurate” but also bucking the liberal narrative quite often in its news and feature reporting. This has been especially true since about last summer. Part of the problem, I concede, is the “front page” issue. Yes, sometimes you have to go deeper into the “newspaper” to see this, although since I only read the Times on my laptop and tablet, I don’t see what the big deal is with that any more.

            You also have to remember – or shall I say, I know enough about this to tell your readers – that the New York Times’ business strategy for its front page has changed over time. Think of it as “Sunday, every day.” Much of the front page by design is feature and illustrated stories on cultural topics, whether it’s Tuesday or Thursday or any day. That pushes news and “news features” with a time-sensitivity to inside pages more often than it would have in the past. Is there bias in THAT decision? Maybe. But the point is that obsessing specifically over “the front page of the New York Times” to me is a little outdated.

            • The front page is and has always been far, far ahead of any other content in terms of eyeballs; indeed, most readers read headlines and skim the rest. If you mean the web diminishes the primacy of front pages, that’s a valid point—over 8 million readers are digital, and less than a million are print. But the front page is still any paper’s badge, and is a fair measure of bias.

              I’d like to see what progressive narratives you see the Times as bucking. I see that very, very seldom.

              • How ironic in that I mentioned an example of that in this very thread. Did you read “With Some Voters ‘Ready to Move On,’ Democrats Search for New Message on Virus” with its anti-union subhead on Monday or Tuesday? If not, WHY didn’t you read it? Or maybe not even see it?

                That’s my underlying point – I suspect you and many others, especially those here, see a “woke” article or opinion piece, get mad, and slam the door on reading the rest of the NYT’s output. And amazingly, the Times just posted this afternoon, “Hell Hath No Fury Like a Voter Scorned” in “The Argument” section. Take a look at it. (Their section called “The Upshot” also very often carries against-the-liberal-grain pieces.) Basically, this instinct to say that The Atlantic, or Bill Maher, or this person, or that station, or whatever is horrible is leading to a certain siloing of information in a way that I don’t think you really want for Ethics Alarms. It’s one thing for one of your Steves to announce that they’ll never look at the New York Times after the summer of 2020. You should be careful not to let the main narratives here slip into that problem – the Echo Chamber and all that, Jack.

                If you give me until this weekend, I can privately send you more examples from the NYT over the past year.

                • I read it! No, I don’t consider that kind of article challenging a progressive narrative at all. Why do you? It’s not hostile to Democrats, it’s a pro-Democrat problem solving piece! From the article: “The shift reflects a potential change in the nature of the threat now that millions of Americans are vaccinated and Omicron appears to be causing less serious disease. But it is also a political pivot. Democrats are keenly aware that Americans — including even some of the party’s loyal liberal voters — have changed their attitudes about the virus and that it could be perilous to let Republicans brand the Democrats the party of lockdowns and mandates.”

                  Quick! Change tactics before those mean Republicans “brand” you, not that it would be fair or anything! The reaction to every botch in the Biden years is “change the messaging!,” and this article is just more inside baseball on how the message will be “changed” (and the Times can be counted on to help that “messaging.”

                  The Times is corrupt, but it isn’t stupid. Just as it didn’t try to defend the inept pull-out in Afghanistan, it’s not going to keep denying what even Democrats now understand: the lockdown and school closings were a mistake, and maintaining the same narrative will doom the Times’ favorite party.

                  • Oh jeez Jack, the article doesn’t say the change is going to WORK for the Democrats. Several times it says the Democrats are in trouble over this, it quotes voters to that effect, and so on. It’s a good piece of reporting. But go ahead, prove me wrong. Write a post about the fact that this article was published to help your commenters who don’t know it’s out there. In any case, I’m sure there were previous Times articles, columns, guest articles and so on going way against the grain of the lockdowns. I’ll find them for you this weekend, but you should already know about them.

  9. I believe Doocy’s was a 2-part question, and the first (less audible) part was, “Are you going to answer questions about inflation?” I don’t think it was a “loaded” question, since the gist was just an invitation for Biden to say anything, anything at all, about inflation. Working class Americans have, for all practical purposes, have had their incomes reduced by 7-10% by inflation since Biden was elected.

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