Biden Gaffes Covered Up by Biased Media!

Kirsten Powers has an amusing piece in the NY Post headlined “BIDEN’S BUNGLES: A BLATANT BIAS.”  It echoes sentiments I’ve been seeing in the comments section:

Barack Obama’s choice of Joe Biden as his running mate prompted a small wave of warnings about Biden’s propensity for gaffes. But no one imagined even in a worse-case scenario such a spectacular bomb as telling donors Sunday to “gird your loins” because a young president Obama will be tested by an international crisis just like young President John Kennedy was.

Scary? You betcha! But somehow, not front-page news.

Again the media showed their incredible bias by giving scattered coverage of Biden’s statements.

There were a few exceptions. On MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” co-host Mika Brzezinski flipped incredulously through the papers, expressing shock at the lack of coverage of Biden’s remarks. Guest Dan Rather admitted that if Palin had said it, the media would be going nuts.

So what gives?

The stock answer is: “It’s just Biden being Biden.” We all know how smart he is about foreign policy, so it’s not the same as when Sarah Palin says something that seems off.

Yet, when Biden asserted incorrectly in the vice-presidential debate that the United States “drove Hezbollah out of Lebanon,” nobody in the US media shrieked. (It was, however, covered with derision in the Middle East.) Or when he confused his history by claiming FDR calmed the nation during the Depression by going on TV, the press didn’t take it as evidence that he’s clueless.

So, the liberal media is covering up Biden’s gaffes while falling all over themselves to make Sarah Palin look like an airhead, right?  Well, sort of.

Powers essentially gives the answer:  Biden is a known quantity.  He’s been around Washington more than three decades and earned a reputation as a bright guy in command of the issues, especially foreign policy, but with a tendency to say dumb things from time to time because he never shuts up.

Sarah Palin arrived on the scene, by contrast, to the sound of Who in the hell is she? This set off a frantic round of investigative reporting but allowed her first significant public impression to be her convention acceptance speech, which she hit out of the park.  She was more popular in the polls than any of the other three people on the two tickets.  But, then, she went into hiding, refusing to give press interviews — apparently a campaign decision — and emerged to give two really bad ones to Katie Couric and Charlie Gibson.

It should be noted, too, that Biden’s not the only gaffe-prone, seasoned foreign policy expert to be given a pass this cycle.  The lefty blogs were livid all summer that McCain’s various statements confusing countries, religious sects, and otherwise seeming to call into doubt his expertise were being “covered up.” (Interestingly, as with Biden, we somehow all know about the gaffes even though the media haven’t reported them.  Very odd, that.)  But, as I noted at the time, you get a certain benefit of doubt when you’ve been around the block a few times.

Palin and Barack Obama didn’t have a bank of credibility to draw from.  They basically had to step out into the spotlight and survive.  I thought for months that Obama would wither under the intense light being reflected through the media magnifying glass, precisely because of the big leap from and essentially uncontested Senate race to a presidential contest.  Obviously, he didn’t.   By comparison, Palin has.

In all four cases, the press is guilty of bias.  Confirmation bias.  Once they’ve got a narrative, it’s very hard to change it.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2008, Media, US Politics, , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. rodney dill says:

    …but a Brilliant move by the dems as it takes the bumble focus off Obama.

    – After all the United States grew 14% since the invention of Obama. (now 57 states)
    – Since the invention of Obama people now listen to the claim that AAA made for years that tire inflation improves gas mileage. (Yielding an average of 5 MPG improvement for each SUV owner.)
    – Since the invention of Obama “Trickle Down” economics is replaced with “Sprinkle ’round” economics. (Redistributing US wealth instead of growing it)

  2. tom p says:

    There is also the added aspect that McCain and Biden are perceived to be members of the “old gaurd” of their respective parties, on the way out. Obama and Palin are both seen as the future of their parties, so the focus is a little sharper.

  3. duckspeaker says:

    All gaffes are not created equal. There’s a clear difference between Biden’s/McCain’s slips of the tongue, unadvised colloquialisms, and mixing up of proper names and dates versus Palin’s incomprehensible word salads and bastardization of basic civics.

  4. sam says:

    It’s even more amusing for me because my “confirmation bias” kicked right in when I read it, given that is in the New York Post. Aha, I thought, another right-wing hack attack. However, when I went to Powers’s wiki page, I found:

    Kirsten A. Powers is an American columnist, blogger, pundit, and political commentator. Powers is a political analyst on Fox News who appears regularly on shows such as The O’Reilly Factor and Hannity & Colmes. She is a registered Democrat with liberal perspectives on political issues. She is a regular guest host on the morning Fox News Radio show Brian and the Judge and a columnist for the New York Post. She is a regular guest host on Hannity & Colmes. She used to write for American Prospect Online….

    Powers has worked for the New York State Democratic Committee, was the press secretary for Andrew Cuomo for Governor and Communications Director on the mayoral campaign of C. Virginia Fields. She also worked on the “Vote No on 3” campaign which overwhelmingly defeated Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s ballot initiative to eliminate party primaries. Powers was also the press secretary for the Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chair race of Donnie Fowler. She has consulted for a variety of non-profit organizations including Human Rights First and the National Council for Research on Women (NCRW).

    Confirmation bias–human, all too human.

  5. rodney dill says:

    All gaffes are not created equal

    Agreed. Obama invoking “My Muslim Faith” with Stephanopolis was a huge, largely underplayed gaffe. Stephanopolis nearly peed over himself to correct Obama. You haven’t heard Palin invoking her “Jewish Faith.” Of course Palin isn’t Jewish, so why would that even cross her tongue.

  6. duckspeaker says:

    Obama invoking “My Muslim Faith” with Stephanopolis was a huge, largely underplayed gaffe. Stephanopolis nearly peed over himself to correct Obama. You haven’t heard Palin invoking her “Jewish Faith.” Of course Palin isn’t Jewish, so why would that even cross her tongue.

    Are you implying that Obama is a closet Muslim? If so, then there’s no point in my engaging you in any further debate. If not, then this is just another example of a slip of the tongue, which again I’d argue is not nearly as disconcerting as Palin’s incomprehensible ramblings and misunderstanding of basic issues.

  7. rodney dill says:

    incomprehensible ramblings

    Now here’s incomprehensible ramblings.

    Now I’ve made a misstatement or two, but I’ve never said my faith had any different basis. If he had no real basis to say “my Muslim faith,” maybe he’s only just delusional. It is certainly more than just a ‘potatoe’ moment. I’m sure Obama doesn’t have anything to worry about as Christianity takes any sinner. If he’s a Christian now then its all good.

  8. duckspeaker says:

    If he had no real basis to say “my Muslim faith,” maybe he’s only just delusional.

    So are you saying he’s a lying closet Muslim, or a delusional Muslim who thinks he’s Christian, or something else? Come now, say clearly what you think.

  9. rodney dill says:

    Come now, say clearly what you think.

    Which is all we’ve ever wanted Obama to do. Let’s let him go first…

  10. duckspeaker says:

    Let’s let him go first…

    I suppose it’s easy to make pointed barbs and allusions, but much more difficult to make a definitive statement when faced with the absurdity of your underlying argument.

    If you think Sen. Obama is a Muslim Manchurian candidate, say it, and let folks judge the merits of your ideas. Hiding behind innuendo is, well, it speaks for itself.

  11. Anderson says:

    The NYT Mag article on the McCain campaign helps us peg exactly when McCain ruined his own media coverage … thanks of course to the boy genius, Steve Schmidt:

    Regardless, this summer Schmidt sought to convince his voluble candidate that the press was no longer his friend. By July, a curtain was literally drawn to separate McCain from the reporters traveling on his plane. He no longer mingled with them, and press conferences were drastically curtailed. The Bushian concept of message discipline — the droning repetition of a single talking point — that had been so gleefully mocked by McCain’s lieutenants in 2000 now governed the Straight Talk Express.

    McCain was *good* at hanging out with reporters. He made them *like* him. And reporters, who are ALL ABOUT ACCESS, got huge crushes on McCain as a result.

    Schmidt literally told McCain to throw that away. And McCain did. Leaving an alienated press to find something else to write about. Which, god knows, they did.

    Amazing.

  12. Houston says:

    McCain was *good* at hanging out with reporters. He made them *like* him. And reporters, who are ALL ABOUT ACCESS, got huge crushes on McCain as a result.

    Please. Analysis like this is asinine. McCain was *good* with the press only when he was a thorn in the side of the GOP establishment. As soon as he became the representative of the GOP establishment, the media no longer had a *crush* on him. It’s that simple.

  13. G.A.Phillips says:

    but with a tendency to say dumb things from time to time because he never shuts up.

    lol, I would say most of the time because he is stupid and never shuts up.

    which again I’d argue is not nearly as disconcerting as Palin’s incomprehensible ramblings and misunderstanding of basic issues.

    lol Why dude? you can’t comprehend stuff like pro life, cut taxes?

    If you think Sen. Obama is a Muslim Manchurian candidate, say it, and let folks judge the merits of your ideas. Hiding behind innuendo is, well, it speaks for itself.

    0bama is not a Muslim M.C., he is a liberal Manchurian candidate, and the the scary thing is that it’s not a covert operation, but it seems that a majority of the folks that breath and think do not have the ability to notice.

  14. Eric says:

    Come now, say clearly what you think.

    Which is all we’ve ever wanted Obama to do. Let’s let him go first..

    No, you made the insinuation, Rodney. You come out and own it.

    You righty loonies are all the same: you insinuate, imply, suggest but are too cowardly to come out and say what you really mean, or, worse, simply deny what you actually said.

    Now, are you going to man up and say what you mean, or are you going to be a coward?

  15. rodney dill says:

    My words have been very clear, don’t blame me for the murkiness in your understanding. We’ve been talking about gaffes at this post, I chose to praise the Dem’s for their choice in Biden as he takes focus away from Obama, the gaffinator. I have no way of knowing to what extent Islam has an influence over Obama, I only know that I wouldn’t say a phrase like “My Flying Spaghetti Monster faith,” that invokes a faith with which I am not familiar or have no basis for understanding. I think the public would be better served if Obama were more clear in his pronouncements.

  16. Houston says:

    The basic premise of Dr. Joyner’s post is flawed.

    Powers essentially gives the answer: Biden is a known quantity. He’s been around Washington more than three decades and earned a reputation as a bright guy in command of the issues, especially foreign policy, but with a tendency to say dumb things from time to time because he never shuts up.

    Yes, Biden is a known quantity, but it’s not as “a bright guy in command of the issues” — far from it. He’s as a windbag who loves the sound of his own voice, can’t be trusted to stay within the boundaries of decency, and will say anything, anytime, anywhere.

    This belief goes back decades to his early years in the Senate, particularly his aggregious behavior on panels investigating appointees, like Judge Clark or Ed Meese or Judge Bork or Judge Thomas.

    He’s been wrong on virtually every major foreign policy issue of his career, from the Cold War to START to NATO to Yugoslavia to Gulf War I to Gulf War II.

    A “bright guy in command of the issues?” The media may have you think it, but I think not. We may soon find out how loose a cannon he really is.

  17. Eric says:

    …but it seems that a majority of the folks that breath and think do not have the ability to notice.

    Perfect. It’s always a conspiracy with you guys, isn’t it? Why, if only that 90% of the population wasn’t fooled, they’d agree with me. I wonder, when Reagan won with 70% of the vote, were you complaining then that everyone was fooled and didn’t have the ability to think straight? Or is it only when Americans prefer liberals that they’re just not thinking right?

    lol why dude? Why look for a zebra when you should be looking for a horse?

  18. Houston says:

    By the way, any suprise that Biden hasn’t been seen on a television in about three days?

    Funny, after all the criticism toward Palin for her “hiding” from the press….now who’s hiding, and who’s the most accessible?

    Palin hasn’t hidden from anything or anyone, and now Biden is persona non grata.

  19. Anderson says:

    McCain was *good* with the press only when he was a thorn in the side of the GOP establishment. As soon as he became the representative of the GOP establishment, the media no longer had a *crush* on him. It’s that simple.

    (1) Demonstrably false — google “mccain ‘tire swing'”.

    (2) If McCain wanted to win this election, being a thorn in the GOP establishment was probably the only way to do it.

    Schmidt, a Bushie who couldn’t conceive of bucking the establishment or of treating the press as anything but hostile, was not bright enough to figure this out. So that we’ve seen more costume changes from the McCain campaign than from a chorus girl at a Vegas show.

  20. G.A.Phillips says:

    Or is it only when Americans prefer liberals that they’re just not thinking right?

    Of course.

    lol why dude? Why look for a zebra when you should be looking for a horse?

    OK now I’ll let you use Why Dude, but please use it properly.In that instance I would have went with “dude why?”

    And why do you insist that you have a Unicorn and a paladins war horse is this race when I see not but donkeypoop littering the trail they have plodded down so far?
    Check your boots there is a reason we keep telling you about a smell.

  21. G.A.Phillips says:

    Now here’s incomprehensible ramblings.

    Not to mention that he looks very very stoned, when I was a smoker, I used the same lie that I was just sleepy, when I was rambling incoherently and glassy eyed with the same goofy smirk, A bowl or two for breakfast will do that.

  22. sam says:

    he is a liberal Manchurian candidate, and the the scary thing is that it’s not a covert operation

    Uh, GA, if it’s not covert, then he’s not a Manchurian candidate.

  23. Grewgills says:

    when I was a smoker, I used the same lie that I was just sleepy, when I was rambling incoherently and glassy eyed with the same goofy smirk, A bowl or two for breakfast will do that.

    Wake and bake explains so much of what you write.

  24. spencer says:

    why is the Biden comment a gaffe?

    Hasn’t every new President in the Post WW II era been quickly tested by new developments?

  25. Spoker says:

    So true Grewgills.

    And in light of of that fact (a simple statement of the historically obvious), don’t you have to wonder if Joe’s ‘gaffe’ wasn’t really just a made for the MSM set-up to lead into BHO’s meeting with his international advisor’s corps this week so the press coverage could help BHO look like he is presidential and ahead of the curve.

  26. Cris Urich says:

    I know! If they wanted, anyone could make one of these blunder reels on Biden that they keep using to smear SP!
    Now look at this thing:
    http://3d.justleapin.com/palingram
    The “Palingram”. They take a bunch of Sarahcudda’s comments out of context and play it back with a lame 3D animation of some kind of yokel house cabin thing. I guess they imagine that’s where we all “cling to guns and religion.” And then you can type whatever you want, as though she’s saying it. They’re actually bragging about putting words in her mouth! But you could make the same kind of thing with Biden’s blunders! But nobody hates him as much as these libs hate Sarah.

    Nobody but me!

  27. mnotaro says:

    Oh can you EVEN imagine if Palin said what Biden did???!!! It would be front page of every newspaper in the country! But of course the lefty illuminati MSM don’t report on news if it doesn’t support Obama!

  28. G.A.Phillips says:

    Uh, GA, if it’s not covert, then he’s not a Manchurian candidate.

    blah, liberals think they can get away with anything, don’t blame me cause the don’t believe or go by the rules in the rules.

    Wake and bake explains so much of what you write.

    And the things you believe in, illumidonkey!

  29. Irene Lebedies says:

    I beg to differ with this particular comment in your writing: “…under the intense light being reflected through the media magnifying glass…” What the heck are you talking about? How true reporting has absolutely died in this country is seen in the total adoration of the mainstream media of Barack Hussein Obama. Where are the tough questions to him: Tell us how your political career began in the living room of William Ayers…? How are you linked to A.C.O.R.N.? How many years have you known and associated with Mr. Rezko? What would you tell a terrorist leader who wants to obiliviate Israel in direct talks with no pre-conditions? Did you wear earplugs when you went to Reverend Wright’s church, since all of America seems to know what he was talking about but you? Why won’t you release your health or school records, or what do you have to hide there? No reputable REAL reporter would leave these questions un-asked, but the American mainstream media has. What a shame! I became a naturalized citizen in 2006 to be a member of a country I admire – well, I’ll be darn if I let this go without me saying something! – Irene