Happy Saturday. Let's check in on the media this week.
The mainstream media suggested the felony gun charges were a bit much. But few journalists disputed Hunter Biden's criminality or corruption. Instead, they insisted that none of it could be tied to the president.
— All In with Chris Hayes (@allinwithchris) September 15, 2023
News outlets—spurred by a White House memo demanding even more critical coverage of the GOP's impeachment inquiry—redoubled their reporting that no evidence substantively links Joe Biden to his son's drug-addled influence peddling.
NBC News: "In a memo to news organizations, the administration rebutted seven Republican claims and called the impeachment inquiry 'all politics and no evidence.' …
"[House Speaker Kevin] McCarthy does not appear to have the full support of his party and has faced criticism for the lack of evidence in GOP allegations of the president's wrongdoings."
CNN: "While news organizations have published innumerable fact checks on the matter, they have also often failed to robustly call out the mis- and disinformation peddled by Republicans in their coverage, frustrating officials in the Biden White House who believe that the news media should be doing more to dispel lies that saturate the public discourse. …
"The Republican House-led investigations into Biden have yet to provide any direct evidence that the president financially benefited from [his son] Hunter Biden's career overseas."
Associated Press: "The White House has said that Joe Biden was not involved in his son's business affairs. And so far, despite months of investigations, Republicans have unearthed no significant evidence of wrongdoing by the elder Biden, who spoke often to his son and as vice president did stop by a business dinner with his son's associates. Hunter Biden is not a public figure."
Joe Biden was in fact involved in Hunter Biden's business dealings, and the impeachment inquiry is meant to uncover more evidence, as House Speaker Kevin McCarthy explained to a skeptical reporter.
Fact checking the fact checkers: Biden, speaking in Alaska on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, claimed that he was at ground zero the day after Al Qaeda terrorists felled New York City's Twin Towers. In reality, he first visited the site over a week later, on Sept. 20, 2001.
CNN's Daniel Dale did a rare fact check of Biden for the false story. But much of the media ignored the president's latest tall tale. The New York Times paraphrased the relevant section of Biden's speech: "Mr. Biden recalled how he stood at ground zero after the attacks, looking at the wreckage." The Washington Post, the Associated Press, Reuters, and Axios simply omitted any mention of Biden's falsehood.
As Dale noted, Biden "has repeatedly made false claims about his past."
Meanwhile, in a phone call with rabbis ahead of the Jewish High Holidays, which started this week, Biden said he "was raised in the synagogues of my state." He has previously claimed to have been raised by various other religious and ethnic communities.
According to Biden:
He was raised by Irish, Polish, and Puerto Rican communities
Meanwhile he was 'raised in" synagogues, Black churches, and went to Catholic Mass. pic.twitter.com/YSi4cPVsCl
— John Hasson (@SonofHas) September 15, 2023
Elder abuse: Even as the media largely deferred to the president on impeachment and his muddled memory, the Washington Post's David Ignatius penned a bombshell column under the headline "President Biden Should Not Run Again in 2024."
"It’s painful to say that, given my admiration for much of what they have accomplished. But if [Biden] and [Vice President Kamala] Harris campaign together in 2024, I think Biden risks undoing his greatest achievement—which was stopping Trump," wrote Ignatius, who is reportedly required reading in the West Wing.
"Because of their concerns about Biden’s age, voters would sensibly focus on his presumptive running mate, Harris. She is less popular than Biden, with a 39.5 percent approval rating, according to polling website FiveThirtyEight. Harris has many laudable qualities, but the simple fact is that she has failed to gain traction in the country or even within her own party."
Ignatius's column was discussed on CNN, and he was allowed to make his case on MSNBC.
WaPo's David Ignatius calls on Biden to drop out of the 2024 race:
"The heart of it is whether Joe Biden is the best person to carry this legacy forward .. I felt it was time to have a more public discussion about this. What a journalist like me should do is take issues like… pic.twitter.com/KXD1Yn01vb
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) September 13, 2023
In related news, New York magazine's Eric Levitz argued for Biden to drop Harris from the 2024 ticket, and CNN anchors pressed leading Democrats on whether the vice president is the "best running mate." Neither Reps. Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) or Jamie Raskin (D., Md.) would say so.
This is fine: The media initially seemed untroubled by New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's suspension of Second Amendment rights in response to recent gun violence in the state.
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) said the state is temporarily suspending open and concealed carry of firearms in Albuquerque and the surrounding county for 30 days, describing the unusual move as a necessary response to gun violence there. https://t.co/8ubzWpaWh9
— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) September 10, 2023
But, after even the most unlikely defenders of the gun rights—like David Hogg, Rep. Ted Lieu (D., Calif.) and the ACLU—questioned the constitutionality of the governor's ban on carrying firearms, journalists had to ask a few questions.
"We also have, Governor, the Constitution ... and you're an attorney. Do you think you're on solid constitutional ground?"
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham: "I have the right"
"But where is the right?"
Lujan Grisham: "We'll see what all of these court actions do" pic.twitter.com/Rb3MeBZcVH
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) September 12, 2023
Still, there was little substantive scrutiny of the executive order, let alone the kind of line-by-line takedowns regularly directed at such controversial Republican policies as restricting LGBT indoctrination of kindergartners.
Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida is expected to sign House Bill 1557, which limits what educators can say about gender and sexuality. Opponents call it the 'Don’t Say Gay" bill.
Here is a line-by-line reading of the bill’s most consequential language.https://t.co/NoH5kztun3
— The New York Times (@nytimes) March 19, 2022
Later in the week, a federal judge temporarily blocked the order, saying it went against a landmark Supreme Court ruling that people have a right to carry a gun for self-defense.
Gold nugget: One liberal journalist did do some reading on his own side—and he was "shocked" to learn that the "book banners" might have a point.
"I watched ‘book bans’ happen in real time. I thought they were all hysteria. Then I opened one of the most-challenged titles," wrote Slate's Aymann Ismail, referring to It's Perfectly Normal, an LGBT-friendly sex-ed book for children ages 10 and up:
I felt sure that as a 34-year-old father of two there would be nothing in there that would offend my sensibilities. I’d heard nothing but glowing reviews from sex-ed pros about the child-friendly language in the book. But flipping through the book’s pages finally, I was a little shocked. I had an involuntary reaction to seeing the nude cartoons, like I needed to make sure I was alone and hide the book. I skimmed ahead to look at the rest of the book briskly. On virtually every page I stopped to examine, I was confronted with detailed drawings of genitals. It felt like every page had a cartoon of a naked body. ...
In the chapter ‘Making Love,’ there are three graphic images that show adult bodies having sex. There is no visible penetration, but it’s still eye-popping. I began to wonder if I had been a little too dismissive of the parents at the root of this fight."
A day after Ismail's essay was published, Sen. John Kennedy (R., La.) performed a similarly shocking reading of two LGBT young adult books at a Senate hearing on "book bans."
Sen. Kennedy reads passages from pornographic books Genderqueer and All Boys are Blue.
The Illinois Sec. of State Alexi Giannoulias responds by saying "those words are disturbing coming from your mouth."
His state's new law stops parents from being able to remove it from… pic.twitter.com/eDehdhctQL
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) September 12, 2023
Stay safe out there, and see you next week.