I’d like to start with a question: When was the last day you can remember when the news didn’t include negative coverage about President Biden’s age? And worse, ignore Trump’s age or his clearly lesser cognitive abilities compared to Biden’s? Think about it for a minute.
I assume since you’ve chosen to read this you also pay attention to the news on a daily basis. Maybe not as much as those of us who write articles here (or those on other blogs) do but you like to be informed. Even have your thinking challenged. News proceeds at an increasing pace, and if a year was once a political lifetime now as little as a month can be. For all that, some things seem to never change and one political constant for decades now is that journalism and journalist approach almost any election, but especially a Presidential one with an intent to frame coverage on the “horse race.” If you follow my writing I talk (oi – so sometimes I RANT) about it in articles and comments.
I’ll say it again. Those in the executive suites of news outlets only care about ad revenue and profits. Sadly, the bulk of the “talent” (their anchors, consultants/talking heads, big name writers) feel the same. “Buzz” and especially when some conflict is involved sells. “Horse Race” “news” is easier to do, and cheaper which makes the executives love it all the more. Why pay an army of reporters to get out there and really dig into good stories that inform the public when they can have a relative handful pontificate oh-so-importantly on polls and who’s up, who’s down – the “horse race?” So if there isn’t one or well out it looks like the race (again, particularly the Presidential one) then by god they WILL create one.
That brings me to a new poll by NBC that got hyped today. (You can read about it here) The breathless coverage was of how now Trump beats Biden 46-44 next year. Ok, that’s not good but digging into the data was something troubling. A significant factor in Democrats kicking butt in elections since 2018 has been the turnout with young voters. The “youth vote” has long been dismissed as in the conventional wisdom being that for all the hype in the end younger voters, especially those in college or recent grads wouldn’t turn out in big numbers after all. Kind of like us thinking THIS time a statewide race in Texas will go Democrat’s way and you know how that has turned out! But for multiple cycles in a row younger people have been signing up and voting in significantly greater numbers than had been the case prior to the 2018 midterms. They’ve made the difference in some close races. More importantly some have gotten into the habit of voting.
That brings me back to the question I started this with. I suppose there has been the odd day (although not at all often) where segments expressing “concern” about Biden’s age haven’t been aired or written about. However if you thought about the question when I first raised it I think you’ll agree it’s been a steady drumbeat of ageist, negative coverage about President Biden’s age combined with little (if any) matching coverage about Trump. If you’re well informed you know a couple of things about Joe Biden. He overcame a terrific, classic stutter that he grew up with and somehow well enough to be effective as a political candidate. However, from an early age he’s been a “gaffe machine” in no small part because of techniques he learned to avoid stuttering. Like most of us his mind works faster than his mouth but in his case there’s a filter he’s learned to apply and it sometimes leads to verbal gaffes. Add in an old-fashioned trait of common person sense and basic honesty and sometimes things slip out that a more glib, slick politician might not say.
All of which has as I said made him a gaffe machine since he became a politician back in the freaking 1970s. This is nothing new! However, from where I sit news coverage (by order of the bosses) has framed what’s always been the case, and in the past even an endearing trait of Biden’s into questions about his mental fitness! If not stated outright the question is sure as hell implied as in “Is Biden slipping mentally?” TRUMP is the one who is clearly devolving. Not Biden, who is who he’s always been. But it’s been clear that while MAGAs will show up in force for Trump they aren’t enough to get him anywhere near the WH again. So just like they did with Hillary Clinton a decision has been made in executive suites to create a neck-and-neck race.
For ratings. Revenue. It’s CBS’s Les Moonves Trump may not be good for the country but he’s sure as hell goof for CBS all over again.
It’s ageism pure and simple. I’m a senior citizen myself now and have a wide range of life experiences including people I’ve met and known, some fairly well. I’ve met people in their seventies and even eighties who are in the prime of their freaking lives. Mentally and even if not as physically agile as when young still pretty damned fit. I’ve also know people fifty years or so old who are so broken down physically or mentally (or both) they’d need to get better just to die. When I look at Joe Biden and Donald Trump the difference is glaringly obvious. Biden is still in command of complex policy issues and able to effectively communicate with other world leaders to accomplish some astonishing good. He’s physically more fit than most that are fifteen or twenty years younger. Trump? Not even close on either measure. Yet from news coverage Biden had faded into doddering old-man territory while Trump is still chugging along!
That things are portrayed that way regardless of the news outlet is NOT by accident.
I referenced the younger people vote earlier for a reason because when I saw some drilling down a lot of the new “Trump beats Biden” number comes from loss of support with younger voters. Two things are at work. Months of steadily increasing talk about Biden’s (but not Trump’s) age combined with “is it time to pass the torch to someone younger” news coverage, and the war in Israel/Gaza. How Israel was so vulnerable to Hamas’ terrorist attack will be the subject of countless books, and studied by historians for generations. Ultimately it will cost Bibi Netanyahu his job and perhaps his freedom without the shield of his office to protect him. Not to mention he will one day be reviled by Israelis for his failures.
However, for the moment Israel has gotten strong support from Biden and the U.S. government. Hamas needs to be destroyed and hostages still alive need to be released. However as with hard-right Israelis having told us for decades to f**k off when it comes to expansion of settlements in the West Bank (which is what led to the current war) their pretty much doing the same when we implore them to take a more measured military approach in Gaza and be more open to allowing humanitarian aid (and so on) they’re still pretty much ignoring us. That isn’t going over well with an increasing number of Americans, but it’s particularly bothering those younger voters I’m talking about.
Already having been repeatedly bombarded with “isn’t Biden too old?” messaging his embracing of Netanyahu (he really doesn’t have a choice diplomatically right now) has created a HUGE swing with younger voters. With all the other issues lining up in Democrat’s favor next year things were shaping up to be a crazy (if as expected Trump is the GOP nominee) but predictable election where Joe Biden and Democrats would win. Even retain control of the Senate with a break or two despite an unfavorable map. That however wouldn’t bring in the ratings and revenue news executives (and “talent” crave) but with the disgusting, insidious ageism attacks on President Biden NOW they’ve got their goddamned horse race!
It’s going to be far tougher to maintain the youth vote next year and we will need it. And if the news business winds up letting Trump back into the WH? What to the bosses and ‘talent” care? They’ll be rich and can take their ill-gotten gains and retire. Probably somewhere other than this country they will have destroyed.
So any young people out there who have read this please, PLEASE think about what I’ve said. A handful of people including bosses of social media are trying to manipulate you. If not to vote for some third Party candidate (at least for President) again then to just give up and not bother voting.