The Gaslighting of the American Public

(Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

Believe it or not, some of us were not actually surprised by President Joe Biden’s catastrophe of a debate performance. 

What the evening exposed was not Biden’s infirmity, though it did that too, but the years-long effort on the part of various White House communications aides, Democratic lawmakers, and mainstream media organs to gaslight the American public. It is they who were left exposed last night, and the panic that has fallen over the Washington establishment is over their own public humiliation. 

Just last week, Politico Playbook told us without a hint of skepticism that Biden and his team were hunkering down—"busy practicing" and "surrounded by top advisers" while "his campaign is making a supremely organized push to drill down on the themes they hope will ultimately drive the week" while Trump "wasn’t exactly policy focused."

Biden’s real problem was not old age but "cheap fakes," according to the New York Times. The president was grappling with "a distorted, online version of himself, a product of often misleading videos that play into and reinforce voters’ longstanding concerns about his age and abilities." 

"A New York Times review of these videos found that some scenes were cut short and taken out of context, while other clips were cropped in a way that omitted crucial details when compared with additional footage," the Times wrote.

The debate offered a splendid opportunity to debunk that misinformation, and we were told that the Biden campaign expertly negotiated the debate rules in the president’s favor. "Trump feeds off the crowd, they give him life,’ a Biden adviser told Politico in May. ‘We wanted to take that away.’" Genius. 

Not 24 hours after the debacle, the New York Times was telling readers that an "energetic" Biden appeared at a post-debate campaign rally—as Biden campaign staffers scurried to stop attendees at a Kamala Harris rally from telling reporters that Biden should drop out of the race.

Biden was moribund on Thursday as he has been in dozens of public appearances over the past few years. Moribund, too, is the credibility of the political class who has told us that is not the case. The jig is up.