March 15, 2021

Boy, it is really infuriating to watch media types on Twitter try to equate every innocent move by President Joe Biden with his nefarious predecessor! Eric Boehlert's Press Run newsletter spells out the insane gyrations of the Beltway press to manufacture controversy in this administration:

Biden travels during the pandemic! Biden wears a Rolex! Biden hasn't given a press conference! Biden hasn't credited Trump for the vaccine! Biden hasn't "united" the nation! The breathless exercise is already tedious. And it's only March.

In a way this is the Beltway press returning to "normalcy" after Trump's four years of deliberate chaos. And normalcy for the D.C. media is pelting Democrats with gotcha stories about optics and how something the president has done doesn't look right, as determined by journalists. Not that the president has done anything wrong. Just that it doesn't feel right, and that now that gets treated as Important News, just months after a president who ran the White House as a criminal enterprise and tried to demolish free and fair elections in America left office.

Under that Republican president, the daily optics were routinely so horrendous as he tweeted out racist taunts, bullied adversaries, and buddied up to foreign dictators. Faced with an openly corrupt president who didn't even try to hide his misdeeds, the media's optics squad went into hiding and stopped handing out tickets altogether.

Now they're back, as the Beltway press goes searching for infractions, while journalists obliterate all sense of proportion. This double standard has now become commonplace. As a rule, there were no brazen corruption or bouts of lawbreaking when recent Democratic presidents were in office, or running for president. So the press had to lean into optics in order to create drama and allegations of wrongdoing.

Go read the rest, it's superb. Boehlert is one of the best media critics around.

In the meantime, this is playing out on Twitter, which is the only place where journalists are relatively accountable to the public:

Again: The vast majority of the media do not know how to cover government. They cover politics. They specialize is manufacturing perception and lean heavily on optics.

And, as I pointed out:

This is true, by the way. How often does a scoop come out of a reporter asking a question at a press conference? It's performance!

But Maggie Haberman will ignore the 300+ responses to her tweet, telling herself instead that she and her fellow journalists are noble creatures, misunderstood by the craven mob. Well, some of them are (I don't recall ever seeing the Washington Post's David Farenthold in the middle of these self-pitying whine fests, probably because HE'S WORKING ON A STORY), but these access journos don't understand that 18 months of actually covering Trump's perfidy doesn't make up for years of bothsides-erism and making media mountains out of molehills.

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