Media Dispatches From an Alternate Universe

Disney/Marvel via AP

The biggest story in the country right now is Joe Biden's age which is very inconvenient for the Democrats but also for the media which had been in the process of going in the tank to defend Biden on exactly this issue. 


The debate blew those efforts out of the water. Suddenly it was no longer possible to maintain the idea that Biden was the victim of "cheap fakes," i.e. unedited videos of him circulated by his opponents to make him look bad.

So in about 24 hours we've gone from a not so subtle message being pushed by most of the media which could be fairly summarized as Republicans are lying about President Biden's mental faculties to a new lie. I won't summarize that one yet. You'll be able to pick it up on your own. Let's start with this story from Axios headlined "Two Joe Bidens: The night America saw the other one."

The past 36 hours showcased two Joe Bidens: the veteran president rallying voters in a swing state, and an 81-year-old man struggling to string thoughts together in a debate.

The public split screen isn't new to many inside the White House, where top aides have meticulously stage-managed minutiae such as Biden's sleep schedule, his orthopedic shoes, his walks to Marine One and his climb aboard Air Force One to try to blunt concerns about his age.

From 10am to 4pm, Biden is dependably engaged — and many of his public events in front of cameras are held within those hours.

Outside of that time range or while traveling abroad, Biden is more likely to have verbal miscues and become fatigued, aides told Axios.

This is absolutely incredible. The framing of this story is that suddenly, out of nowhere, everyone is shocked to discover there is another Joe Biden, one who seems hobbled by old age. For comparison purposes, this is what Axios was saying one week prior to the debate:


One week from today, Biden and Trump will square off in a debate likely to spawn millions of online memes, TikToks and rapid-response videos churned out by both campaigns...

For Trump — and a right-wing ecosystem that thrives off of highlighting Biden's "senior moments" — the debate is a chance to drive home why so many voters think the president isn't up to the job...

White House officials spent the last week accusing Republican rapid-response accounts and conservative media of spreading misleading or deceptively edited videos of Biden.

A debunked clip of Biden appearing to wander off during a skydiving demonstration at the G7 summit wound up on the front page of the New York Post — drawing a furious reaction from the White House.

So, just a week ago, a "right-wing ecosystem" was driving a false narrative with cheap fakes and "debunked" clips and the White House was furious about it. One week later, people in the White House knew all along that Biden was falling apart and Axios has the scoop! 

What Axios has skipped right over is any reckoning with its own previous reporting. Having framed this as a Republicans bad story, don't they have some responsibility to now admit that Republicans were right?

Apparently not.

Instead if feels like we've jumped out of one timeline straight into an alternate universe. We've gone from the message: Republicans are lying about President Biden's mental faculties to Joe Biden is only reliable for six hours a day. But there's no acknowledgement that Republicans have been vindicated and the White House has been proven to be a bunch of shameless liars. How in the world is that not part of the story now when it was the story a week ago?


The same thing is happening at the NY Times. Yesterday they published a story headlined "Two Appearances, Two Starkly Different Bidens."

On Thursday night, Joe Biden One struggled to deliver sharp and cogent critiques of Mr. Trump despite having spent more than a week hunkered down at Camp David, surrounded by a revolving cast of aides and provided plenty of time to rest up.

He started to answer a question about debt by mixing up trillionaires and billionaires and then bragged about “what I’ve been able to do with the, with, with the Covid — excuse me, with dealing with everything we have to do with.” And after trailing off and pausing, he ended with a blunt statement: “We finally beat Medicare.”...

Joe Biden Two provided a stark contrast. Over about 20 minutes — and with the help of a teleprompter and an enthusiastic crowd — he rarely missed a beat.

Compare that to what the Times was reporting just a week ago in this dreck of an article headlined "How Misleading Videos Are Trailing Biden as He Battles Age Doubts."

President Biden has many adversaries in this year’s election. There are his Republican opponent, former President Donald J. Trump, and the independent candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

And then there is the distorted, online version of himself, a product of often misleading videos that play into and reinforce voters’ longstanding concerns about his age and abilities.

In the last two weeks, conservative news outlets, the Republican National Committee and the Trump team have circulated videos of Mr. Biden that lacked important context and twisted mundane moments to paint him in an unflattering light.


So we've gone from there is an alternate Joe Biden who is a distorted lie created by Republicans to there are two Joe Bidens one of whom is slack-jawed and unable to form sentences.

The Times, in one week, went from bashing dishonest Republicans to adopting their stance without mentioning that a) their own reporting was wrong up until this moment and b) Republicans were right. 

Again, it feels like we've jumped into an alternate universe where all of the reporters are now saying the same things Republicans have been saying for months. It's surreal, like something out of a Dr. Strange movie about the multi-verse.

The Times also published this helpful revisionist history titled "The White House Brushed Off Questions About Biden’s Age. Then the Debate Happened."

Ever since President Biden announced last year that he would run again, those in his inner circle closed ranks and brushed off the obvious question: No, they insisted, he was not too old to seek re-election.

The news media, they said, was unfairly fixated on his age. Republicans were posting wildly distorted video clips on social media making him look more feeble than he actually is. Hand-wringing Democrats fretting over the prospect of an octogenarian president turning 86 by the end of a second term were just “bed-wetters.”

Then the debate happened. And now the days of denial at the White House are over.

What a load of self-serving junk. The story isn't that the White House brushed off these concerns and then, suddenly, the debate opened everyone's eyes. That's another fantasy that might as well be coming from an alternate universe.


The real story is that the White House and the media demonized Republicans as liars and the debate was only an eye-opener to those wearing blinders for the past year. 

I didn't learn the truth on debate night, did you? The debate wasn't the moment we learned the truth, it was the moment the liars couldn't maintain their lies any longer.

If reporters for these outlets were genuinely surprised by the debate, they would admit that Republicans were right and that they were wrong. The fact that they can't admit that, that they are memory-holing their own previous reporting, shows they are embarrassed. They are embarrassed because they knew, or at least suspected, Republicans were right all along.

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