March 10, 2021

Here was the headline in the New York Times this morning:

Biden Got the Vaccine Rollout Humming, With Trump’s Help

And here's the heart of the story:

To Trump administration aides, the new president’s crowing rings off-key. Mr. Biden is proclaiming victory off his predecessor’s achievements while wrongly grumbling about a mess he says he inherited, they say.

“They criticize what we did, but they are using our playbook every step of the way,” said Paul Mango, the Trump administration’s deputy chief of staff for health policy and a senior official in the crash vaccine development effort then known as Operation Warp Speed. He said Mr. Trump’s team oversaw the construction or expansion of nearly two dozen plants involved in vaccine production and invoked the Defense Production Act 18 times to ensure those factories had sufficient supplies.

This is, um, misleading. And to be fair, the reporter who wrote the piece did her job properly. She goes on to list the ways in which Biden got things going after the Trump effort went badly off track. But this story reads like "Former Trump officials call and complain, NYT editors are terrified of being accused by conservatives of not being "fair" (both sides!), and they have to pound that square peg into that round hole, dammit!" Stockholm syndrome, I guess.

As one commenter put it, "I'm not sure I've ever read a headline more at odds with the article beneath it."

It's a growing problem. Both the Times and the Washington Post are trying to do what they can to undermine Biden because, well, it sells! And they're so much more comfortable writing about horse-race politics than ACTUAL POLICY THAT IMPROVES PEOPLE'S LIVES.

And the part they miss is, we're more than ready to read about competent policy. We're not only ready to hear about policy, we're okay with a president who isn't doing anything egregious. They don't have to create faux drama to get our attention.

If you went by what the Times and the Post are pushing, here's what you would learn about the new administration: Biden hasn't held a one-on-one press conference! This is serious, people! And why won't he have his devil dog Major put down?

Time to bring in my favorite Twitter account to put it all in perspective:

Doug Balloon is kind of a genius. His basic premise is simple: What's a story someone would pitch to editors at the Times? He so thoroughly blends the line between satire and reality, sometimes I can't tell the difference. And just to make things even more confusing, he also retweets actual news stories that illustrate media pandering and malfeasance. (If you're not already following him on Twitter, you should.)

And that's why we're right back where blogs started in 2003: Pointing out the dangerous and misleading agendas of the mainstream media. This vaccine story reminds us how blatantly wrong the media too often are.

RGoodfellow sums it up in the comments section:

I spent eight years in pharma and biotech. Sorry but Trump and Co. mainly deserve a participation trophy. At most.

Yes, they did the obvious, the least they could do, and got pharma to work on the vaccines. Pfizer and Moderna (and many others) did what they do best in their labs and conducting trials. They're heroes. They bulked up---to a point--- for the production process but did not, arguably COULD NOT, scale sufficiently while Trump and his Keystone Kops, dithered.

Once pharma did its job, Trump dropped the ball. Or, to be accurate, never picked it up.

The failure to scale up and then effectively address mass distribution/mass inoculation was what began to kill Americans. And Trump's refusal to get the Federal government into the role it should have been playing all along was what set the U.S. on a record-breaking mortality rate.

President Biden, and his administration, immediately spotted the gap and moved to address it. The hand-off from pharma to scale-up, distribution and inoculation---the vital link, the government's main job---came under control.

Moral of the story: Trust, but verify. Don't believe headlines.

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