President Joe Biden is getting trashed by Democrats over the Middle East!
Vice President Kamala Harris isn't acknowledging her Asian heritage!
Those were two breathless dispatches Politico posted this week, as the Beltway insider outlet did its best to gin up drama surrounding the Democratic administration. Apparently still longing from the non-stop news cycle of the Trump era and the relentless controversies and scandals that came with it, Politico has decided that during the No Drama Biden era the best strategy is to just make stuff up and post it as news.
In both gotcha articles it became abundantly clear that Biden is not being trashed by Democrats regarding the Middle East. And Harris is not being widely criticized for downplaying her Indian roots. Both premises are fabrications. How do we know? Because neither article contained evidence to back up the click-bait headlines.
This is indefensible journalism, as Politico eagerly does the GOP's bidding by trying to create controversies where none exist. The daily is hardly alone in this regard. The New York Times recently promoted a long article about Biden's "short fuse" and "quick temper" in a piece that included no quotes or evidence of Biden's "short fuse" and "quick temper." But Politico does seem to be particularly aggressive in concocting unsupported storylines during the Biden era. And Politico is doing it with weighty topics that should not be used as ways to manufacture news.
The deadly, unfolding humanitarian disaster in the Middle East, where the Israeli military and Hamas continue to wage urban warfare with a mounting death toll, should not be used as the backdrop for a false, unsupported story, like Politico's "'I'm Troubled By It': Dems Trash Biden's Handling of Israeli Strikes in Gaza," from May 15.
It's clear Politico wanted to tell a damning story about how the Biden White House was under siege at home politically, as Democrats lined up to denounce the president's handling of the Middle East crisis. If true, that would be a huge story. But the Politico claim was entirely bogus.
The news outlet could not find a single Democrat to "trash" Biden. The only quotes even remotely critical came from Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) who said he was "troubled" by earlier U.S. votes at the United Nation against the call for a ceasefire. (Biden has since said he supports a ceasefire.) And a quote from Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA), who claimed Biden could stop the carnage "with one phone call," which seems highly unlikely.
Instead, what the Politico article featured was a collection of thoughtful quotes from Democrats who are grappling with a complicated, long-running, and deadly foreign policy dilemma.
-- "I just think it's a no-brainer for the United States to be pushing for a ceasefire." (Sen. Chris Murphy)
-- [Biden has] chosen a diplomatic tack, to do it behind the scenes. It obviously hasn't produced the results that everybody wants to see, which is an end to the violence, but I would venture to say it will." (Sen. Bob Menendez)
-- "The escalation of violence, the continued death of civilians in Israel and the Palestinian territories demands the negotiation of a ceasefire." (Sen. Jon Ossof)
-- "There has to be some indication on the ground that a ceasefire is feasible before the president commits himself." (Sen. Jack Reed)
Despite the actual contents, Politico pitched the piece via a preposterous headline as the another Dems In Disarray update, with the party fuming over Biden, even though nothing in the piece suggested that was true.
And then there was the dubious Harris article, which Politico hyped on Twitter this way: "After nearly four months in office, Kamala Harris faces criticism that she hasn't struck the right balance, that she's focused more often on being the United States' first Black vice president than the first Asian American one." And from the sub-headline: "Asian Americans celebrated Kamala Harris' win. But they also want more."
But like the Dems-trash-Biden article, this one was also supremely lacking in evidence to support the provocative claim that Harris was under siege for not acknowledging her Asian heritage. Instead, most experts quoted in the piece raised no concerns about the issue:
-- "Her presence will transform the way our community looks at itself." (Neil Makhija, Indian-American advocate)
-- "I think we need to give everyone who is interracial, intersectional the space to talk about themselves in the way they see themselves." (Rep. Mark Takano)
-- "It's a tremendous tool and a tremendous way of connecting with people and making them feel included so I would just encourage more of that for her because she is such a symbol for so many people in this country that are Asian American Pacific Islander." (Rep. Judy Chu)
Among the only people in the article who made the claim against Harris was a Republican doctor from Mississippi who raises money for GOP candidates. ("I think she is keeping distance from Indian Americans. She should start identifying who she is.") By the way, the political implications of Harris' biracial background represent an interesting topic, and there's a smart way to cover it, as the Los Angeles Times did this week with, "Fellow Asian Americans Laud Kamala Harris' Rise, But Want More Clout For Their Communities."
The Beltway press gorged on Trump chaos for years and now seems to be having trouble adjusting to the return to White House normalcy. The solution is not to just make stuff up.