CBS Smears Ron DeSantis While Pete Buttigieg Gets the Obama Treatment from AP

Wire service pens triple-bylined puff piece on transportation secretary's 'star power'

April 5, 2021

Most journalists do not want Gov. Ron DeSantis (R., Fla.) to be president. They would, however, very much like Pete "Boat Shoes" Buttigieg to be president. The media coverage of the two politicians reflects this preference. Sometimes it really is that simple.

CBS, for example, ran a dishonest 60 Minutes segment on Sunday attacking DeSantis for his vaccine rollout plan. The network implied that the governor acted nefariously by prioritizing the vaccination of senior citizens—the most at-risk demographic, according to science—and by partnering with a prominent supermarket chain to administer vaccines.

On the same day, the Associated Press published an egregious triple-bylined puff piece on Buttigieg's efforts to save America by building bridges, both literally and figuratively. With the possible exception of Beto O'Rourke during his failed campaign for Senate, only Barack Obama has been on the receiving end of such obsequious coverage.

The piece begins with a dramatic lede, setting the scene for Buttigieg's courageous decision to ride a bicycle home from the office like a total nerd:

WASHINGTON (AP) — Pete Buttigieg was a few weeks into his job as transportation secretary, buried in meetings and preparing for the launch of President Joe Biden's $2.3 trillion public works plan, when evening arrived along with a time to try something new in Washington.

Instead of climbing into the back seat of a black SUV like most Cabinet secretaries, he headed to a bike-share rack. Helmet on, and with a couple of Secret Service agents flanking him, he pedaled the mile-long trip to his home in the Capitol Hill neighborhood.

For readers who might be tempted to dismiss Buttigieg's bike ride as a one-time stunt designed to bolster his "regular guy" image, the AP journos work quickly to disabuse them of the notion:

It wasn't a one-time stunt. On Thursday, Buttigieg arrived at the White House for a Cabinet meeting on his two-wheeler. And that wasn't his only "regular guy" moment. Dog park devotees in the District of Columbia have also seen him there, chatting up anyone from children to members of Congress such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.

It only gets better from there. Regarding the secretary's failed run for president in the 2020 Democratic primary, the authors explain that Buttigieg "made a strong impression as someone who represented the future of the Democratic Party."

That's true, insofar as rich white people represent the future of the Democratic Party. By any other measure, Buttigieg made a rather weak impression in 2020, as evidenced by his fourth-place finish in South Carolina, where he won just 3 percent of the black vote.

Fortunately for Buttigieg, the professional journalism industry is dominated by rich white people, so he is often graded on a generous curve. For example, while the authors lament that the "smooth-talking Naval reserve veteran" will have to navigate not only the "complicated politics" of an "entrenched bureaucracy" but also the "fraught politics of a bitterly divided Washington," they are almost psychotically optimistic about his ability to succeed.

"He may have found a way by just riding a bike, which has gained fans from even skeptics in Congress," they write. "'You've got to keep your head up,' Buttigieg told the Associated Press, explaining the path and potential dangers posed from unaccustomed drivers, but he said it can be a much quicker journey from point A to B."

As for evidence that Buttigieg's bike fetish has "gained fans from even skeptics in Congress," the authors cite Rep. Rodney Davis (R., Ill.), who has had two "really good" conversations with Buttigieg and invited the secretary on a bike ride to discuss public transit.

While praising Buttigieg, 39, for possessing a "star power matched by few others" in Biden's cabinet, the authors cite his "ability to command media attention" and "sway the public, including those not always apt to vote Democratic."

They offer no real evidence for this claim, unless you count the line about how Buttigieg "tweets at a frequency to a wider public that comes close to rivaling Donald Trump when he was president." He does this "both on his official and personal account, where he also expresses devotion to his husband, Chasten." As if their case for Pete's persuasiveness wasn't clear enough already, the authors reveal that Buttigieg "has even been seen at a neighborhood park with Ocasio-Cortez." Q.E.D.

Buttigieg is technically a Millennial, so it makes perfect sense that his tenure as transportation secretary would be described as something more than a simple résumé-boosting gig ahead of an inevitable second run for president. It's also a "phase likely to enhance his … life experience," whether by traveling the country or exploring the nooks and crannies of his new neighborhood in Washington, D.C.

The AP profile wraps up with a concluding anecdote seemingly ripped from the pages of Us Weekly's recurring section about how celebrities are "just like us." It goes without saying that the following paragraph would never be written about a Republican politician:

Buttigieg and his husband have been spotted walking around their new neighborhood, Capitol Hill, where they live in a one-bedroom apartment, meandering the artisanal stalls at Eastern Market to smiles from residents. Last weekend, they wandered along the brick row houses and blooming magnolia cherry blossom trees, greeting neighbors with waves and allowing young children to pet their dogs. Their one-eyed puggle named "Buddy," adopted in late 2018, has become something of an Instagram star.

Buddy "loves the attention," Chasten explained to a little blonde girl snuggling up to the pooch. One gets the impression that he's not alone.