Wall Street Journal Publishes Sleazy Hit Piece on Biden’s Age

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Wall Street Journal Publishes Sleazy Hit Piece on Biden’s Age

The Wall Street Journal does some terrific journalism, but yesterday was a low moment for them, as they published a deceptive hit piece on President Joe Biden dressed up as normal reporting. The title of the article is “Behind Closed Doors, Biden Shows Signs of Slipping,” but the actual reporting in it does not bear that out, and the evidence for the title comes only from Republicans.

Poynter, a non-profit journalism school and research institute who does not often wade into these kinds of direct media critiques, even published an article asserting that this “seemed to have more smoke than fire with one side of the aisle using a copy of the newspaper to fan the flames.”

Before diving into this mess, the reason this “report” has such extra salience than all the other “Republicans say Biden is old” pieces that regularly get published, is that Democratic lawmakers like Senator Jack Reed, Senator Patty Murray and Representative Nancy Pelosi said they were interviewed on the record for the story, but none of them appear in it.

There are Democrats quoted in this article, but the piece leans a lot on reporting from people around the Republican Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, yet Johnson himself declined to be interviewed for it. Former GOP Speaker Kevin McCarthy is another major source in it, and the thrust of this charge against Biden’s mental acuity behind closed doors comes mostly from two majorly biased political actors. It is pretty wild to see the authors of this piece hinge basically the whole thing on two proven liars who are incentivized to make Biden look bad.

Joe Biden is the oldest president in American history. It’s not out-of-bounds at all to ask questions about his mental faculties, but that’s not what this article does. It invites the reader in with tantalizing promises of a peek “behind closed doors,” but the authors even admit that “most of those who said Biden performed poorly were Republicans, but some Democrats said that he showed his age in several of the exchanges.”

So the article is titled “Biden shows signs of slipping,” which they admit is what Republicans said, while they note the only Democratic critique is that he “showed his age.” The Wall Street Journal pretty much admits right up front that this is a Republican characterization of what is going on behind closed doors before getting back to pretending this is just normal reporting.

The WSJ leans heavily on White House spokesman Andrew Bates, which is a curious decision when there are Democrats they supposedly spoke to who they do not use direct quotes from. I counted eight instances where they cited the White House spokesman to rebut these Republican talking points. The dynamic this creates is one where the “report” is largely sourced from Republicans and people around them, and most denials are from Biden’s official mouthpiece.

Who are you going to trust, all these different sources or the guy who is paid to protect Biden?

They do quote Democrats on the record like House Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries. It’s possible that the WSJ didn’t publish quotes from other Democrats like Pelosi because they said roughly the same thing as Jeffries, that Biden was “incredibly strong, forceful and decisive” in a meeting over Ukraine. However, the way this whole piece is framed around Republican charges does not provide WSJ any benefit of the doubt here.

Even a guest on Fox News decried this “sham” of an article.

WSJ noted that “The White House kept close tabs on some of The Wall Street Journal’s interviews with Democratic lawmakers,” and Rep. Gregory Meeks even meekly told them that “[The White House] just, you know, said that I should give you a call back” to emphasize Biden’s strengths.

This whole piece is open partisan warfare pretending to be hard news. It’s a total farce. There’s absolutely no trusted information published by these reporters because all of it comes from extremely biased actors who are incentivized to either attack or defend the president’s age.

The problem necessarily isn’t the reporting itself, but how it’s framed. If this were titled something like “partisan squabbles murky the reality around Biden’s age,” The Wall Street Journal could produce pretty much the same article with some added caveats.

Why are Republican charges given the titular treatment while the Democrats, and mostly the White House, serve only as a token rebuttal to the thesis put forward by the piece?

Add in the fact that extremely high-profile Democrats like Nancy Pelosi said they were interviewed on the record but did not have quotes included, but the last two Republican Speakers of the House and people around them are provided a platform to mold the mission statement of the article, and it’s very difficult to say this is anything other than what it looks like from a Rupert Murdoch-owned publication in an election year.

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