President Joe Biden's approval rating is at an all-time low heading into the 2022 midterm election cycle. Democratic lawmakers are retiring in droves, and the party lacks a coherent message for voters. The best they can do is fearmonger about Donald Trump and issue vague warnings that this year's election results might not be legitimate because Republicans made it illegal for black people to vote. (Fact check: They did not.)
If Democrats are going to avoid disaster in November, they are going to need some help from one of their most reliable allies: the mainstream media. Both entities have seen their fortunes fade in the first year of Biden's presidency. The Democratic agenda has stalled, the COVID-19 pandemic has persisted despite the president's vow to "shut down the virus," and Trump's absence has resulted in abysmal ratings for mainstream news outlets.
A spate of recent hiring announcements suggests these media outlets are determined to make Trump, the January 6 storming of the Capitol building, and the so-called assault on democracy central components of their news coverage throughout the midterm election cycle. Democratic politicians, of course, will be more than happy to amplify this coverage on the campaign trail.
Earlier this month, for example, CBS News hired Scott MacFarlane as a congressional correspondent. MacFarlane worked for the local NBC affiliate in Washington, D.C., where he spent the last year obsessively covering the January 6 incident and the myriad prosecutions of the individuals involved. In a press release announcing MacFarlane's new job, CBS News praised the journalist for his "coverage of the aftermath of the January 6th insurrection at the U.S. Capitol."
CBS on Thursday hired Bob Costa, the former Washington Post reporter and coauthor of Peril, the best-selling book for which the promotional copy reads, "The transition from President Donald J. Trump to President Joseph R. Biden Jr. stands as one of the most dangerous periods in American history." The press release that announced Costa's hiring explained that he would be a "pivotal correspondent" for the network who would cover "the evolving state of American democracy" and noted that his reporting "has been cited in subpoenas issued by the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection."
NBC News got in on the action as well. Earlier this week, the network announced the hiring of Ryan Reilly, the former HuffPost justice reporter best known for getting arrested in a McDonald's and misidentifying earplugs as rubber bullets. Reilly also spent the previous year providing obsessive coverage of the January 6 uprising and its aftermath. "Ryan will continue covering the Department of Justice and reporting on the fallout from the Jan. 6 Capitol riot and much more," wrote NBC News senior politics editor Liz Johnstone.
CNN, whose ratings have plummeted 90 percent since Biden took office, went a step further by hiring Michael Fanone, a former D.C. police officer who was injured during the Capitol uprising and recently testified before the January 6 committee in Congress. Fanone resigned from the police force in December, saying that "there are some members of our department who feel their oath is to Donald Trump and not to the Constitution."
Fanone, who joined the network as a law enforcement analyst, appeared on Don Lemon's show earlier this month to commemorate the anniversary of the incident at the Capitol. Most media outlets covered the anniversary as a momentous event on par with the anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks.