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Is the Media Coming Back to Biden’s Corner?

AP Photo/Susan Walsh

The fallout from Joe Biden's disastrous debate performance was immediate. Even the mainstream media, which has spent years covering up Biden's cognitive decline and increasing number of senior moments, couldn't deny the reality. Calls for Biden step aside quickly followed, and have generally not let up. But, is the initial panic subsiding? It might be, and the media may be gradually falling back in line.

For sure, there are still plenty of left-wing pundits who are saying that the situation appears to be bleak at the moment, but the media appears to be pulling back, especially now that Biden is claiming he isn't dropping out.

"Let me say this as clearly as I possibly can as simply and straightforward as I can," Biden reportedly said in a campaign conference call. "I am running…no one’s pushing me out. I’m not leaving. I’m in this race to the end and we’re going to win.”

The media likely intends to take Biden at his word, and is now circling back to playing defense for Biden.

And the biggest evidence for this is a new report from the Associated Press, which seems to have fallen back on the gaslighting strategy we've been subjected to constantly over the past few years. Headlined, "Biden at 81: Often sharp and focused but sometimes confused and forgetful," the articles tries desperately to paint Biden in the most positive light possible while simultaneously acknowledging the reality of last week's debate.

Related: Why Joe Biden Can't Drop Out

"He is often sharp and focused," the article claims. "But he also has moments, particularly later in the evening, when his thoughts seem jumbled and he trails off mid-sentence or seems confused. Sometimes he doesn’t grasp the finer points of policy details. He occasionally forgets people’s names, stares blankly and moves slowly around the room."

Yeah, we've noticed. That's the problem.

"Biden’s occasional struggles with focus may not be unusual for someone his age," the article, which has five bylines, continues. "But at 81 years old and seeking another four years in the White House, the moments when he’s off his game have taken on a fresh resonance following his disastrous debate performance against Republican Donald Trump. The president appeared pale, gave nonsensical answers, stared blankly and lost his train of thought."

The way Biden acts in private, according to regular observers, often tracks how he comes off publicly. In both settings, he can be commanding one day and halting another. 

A day after his debate blunder, Biden’s voice at a North Carolina rally was forceful, his eyes alert, his delivery confident. As he spoke, cheers filled the room. 

“I give you my word as a Biden. I would not be running again if I didn’t believe with all my heart and soul I can do this job,” he told supporters. “Because, quite frankly, the stakes are too high.” 

But sometimes, Biden speaks so softly that it is difficult to make out his words even with a microphone. He’ll stop mid-sentence and trail off during speeches. At other times he runs the room, leading the audience, joking and shaking hands with thrilled supporters, in clear command of the moment. His gait is often stiff, but sometimes he jogs. 

The article is still littered with examples of troubling Joe Biden episodes, yet it tries desperately to gaslight the public by suggesting that while he has his bad moments, he's okay other times, as if that's supposed to make us feel better. And, of course, it includes quotes from people who report seeing Biden competently taking command of both domestic and foreign policy issues.

“I have been with the president a number of times over the last 3 1/2 years on some of the most consequential kind of life, death or peace-type decisions, and also very high-stakes engagements with senior leaders,” Brett McGurk, a senior National Security Council official who coordinates the Middle East and North Africa, told the Associated Press. “And what I have seen time and again — repeatedly and consistently — from the first week of the administration until now — is a president who prepares for those engagements, who has very detailed and comprehensive briefs for those engagements, and then does the engagement, and then has very active follow up.” 

Related: Trump Says Biden Is ‘Quitting the Race’ and Brags That He ‘Got Him Out’

The article even cited the recent viral videos of Biden's senior moments. But, instead of pointing out the obvious -- that the debate validated the videos -- they did the White House's bidding by suggesting they were "cheap fakes."

A growing body of misleading online videos isn’t helping matters. In one clip, Biden stands very still during a Juneteenth musical performance at the White House, leading to talk he had “frozen.” But Philonise Floyd, George Floyd’s brother, was standing next to the president for the performance and disputed the tenor of the clip. “Joe was just standing there having fun,” he told the AP. Floyd put his arm around Biden during the performance and said the two chatted a bit before the music started and had a great conversation.

It's hard to imagine that anyone could claim, especially after the debate, that those videos were "misleading," yet that's what the Associated Press did. 

Even worse, the article attempted to validate Biden's excuse that he was still experiencing jet lag two weeks after his last international trip. "Those foreign trips can be grueling, even for the youngest and healthiest of leaders," the article explained. "And Biden did back-to-back trips in quick succession, first to France and then the G7 visit to Italy."

In the end, the article appears to minimize Biden's senior moments and presents various examples where Biden reportedly demonstrated leadership and competence. It's a stunning change of direction that can only be explained by a growing acceptance that Biden likely isn't leaving the race.


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