AMAC Exclusive – By Andrew Abbott
In recent weeks, even as Democrats desperately try to stage a comeback in the polls ahead of the midterm elections, the mainstream media has launched a full-scale pressure campaign on President Joe Biden, urging him to not seek re-election in 2024. Through a series of op-eds, reports, and polls citing concerns ranging from Biden’s advanced age to his general governing incompetence, this once-reliable ally of all elected Democrats now appears to be trying to throw Biden overboard.
The first significant broadside came on July 9th from the New York Times. The piece’s benign headline, “At 79, Biden Is Testing the Boundaries of Age and the Presidency,” belies its stinging excoriation of the President. “His energy level, while impressive for a man of his age, is not what it was,” the piece states. “He often shuffles when he walks and aides worry he will trip on a wire. He stumbles over words during public events, and they hold their breath to see if he makes it to the end without a gaffe.”
Late last month, the Washington Post piled on with another op-ed from Steven L. Isenberg calling for Biden to immediately pledge not to seek a second term in 2024. In doing so, the piece argues “the midterm elections this November would become about key issues and the quality of individual House and Senate candidates rather than the merits of Biden’s presidency and whether voters feel he should run again.” As Isenberg lays out, the primary fear among many Democrats heading into the midterms is that Biden’s growing unpopularity will act as an anchor around the neck of vulnerable candidates.
Isenberg’s piece followed on the heels of another scathing article in the Post that asserted Biden’s advanced age would all but guarantee his defeat in 2024. According to research conducted by the authors of the piece, Biden’s struggles with young voters alone – who are more likely to support younger candidates – will likely make him an unviable candidate should he run for reelection.
All of this is, of course, no surprise to conservatives or anyone who has spent much time at all watching Biden at public events. But it is nonetheless a shocking change of tune from a media outlet that spent much of 2020 dismissing concerns about Biden’s mental and physical deterioration as Republican disinformation.
Mainstream outlets have also been careful to highlight polling showing that a majority of Americans – including a majority of Democrats – don’t want Biden to run again. One article from CNN in late July ran with the headline “People *really* don’t want Joe Biden to run again.” A few days later, CNN released a poll of their own showing that three in four self-described Democrats don’t want Biden to run again. Another article from USA Today this past Sunday highlighted interviews with “DNC members across a dozen states” that “revealed doubts about Biden’s future.”
In addition to making clear how unlikely a Biden victory in 2024 is and highlighting how unpopular Biden has become, mainstream publications have also reassured Democrats that there are a number of viable alternatives. A recent poll found that Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg polled slightly ahead of Biden among New Hampshire Democratic voters in New Hampshire. Former First Lady Michelle Obama is also gaining some attention as an “emergency” nominee.
But the media’s campaign to replace Biden with an ostensibly more popular candidate may be little more than wishful thinking. To begin with, figures like Buttigieg and Michelle Obama are far less popular with the public than they are with the media. Moreover, as Biden’s Vice President, Kamala Harris is the heir apparent, and the media will likely find it difficult to dismiss or discount her candidacy. Like Biden, she is another figure the media heavily propped up in 2020 but has since fallen out of favor, with a number of stories highlighting dysfunction amongst Harris’s staff at the White House. She ranks near the bottom of most national polls for 2024, and is even more unpopular than Biden with the public.
The mainstream media thus finds themselves in an unenviable position, but one entirely of their own creation. Having helped elevate a man to the Oval Office who was wholly incapable of performing the duties of the office, the political fortunes of other elected Democrats and the credibility of the media itself are now in serious jeopardy. Unfortunately for them, turning on Biden now won’t change either of those facts.
Andrew Abbott is the pen name of a writer and public affairs consultant with over a decade of experience in DC at the intersection of politics and culture.
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