A column published in the Washington Post received plenty of fanfare from other members of the media and even the White House for suggesting that President Biden has received “worse” media coverage than former President Trump.
Post columnist Dana Milbank went viral on Friday with a piece complaining about the “unrelentingly negative” coverage aimed at Biden and cited analysis generated from artificial intelligence comparing how news outlets reported on Biden in the first 11 months of 2021 versus how they covered Trump in the first 11 months of 2020.
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“The findings… confirmed my fear: My colleagues in the media are serving as accessories to the murder of democracy,” Milbank wrote. “After a honeymoon of slightly positive coverage in the first three months of the year, Biden’s press for the past four months has been as bad as — and for a time worse than — the coverage Trump received for the same four months of 2020.”
“Sure, Biden has had his troubles, with the delta variant, Afghanistan and inflation,” Milbank acknowledged. “But the economy is rebounding impressively, he has signed major legislation, and he has restored some measure of decency, calm and respect for democratic institutions.”
Milbank alleged Biden has been treated worse than Trump by the media by citing metrics of a study that examined 65 outlets and ranking each of their stories from “entirely negative” (-1.0) to “entirely positive” (1.0), writing Biden “plummeted to -0.07” in August amid the fall of Afghanistan, a negative benchmark the Post columnist claimed Trump never reached in 2020 nor 2019. Biden has since leveled off “between -0.04 and -0.03 ever since.”
“We need a skeptical, independent press. But how about being partisans for democracy? The country is in an existential struggle between self-governance and an authoritarian alternative. And we in the news media, collectively, have given equal, if not slightly more favorable, treatment to the authoritarians…. Too many journalists are caught in a mindless neutrality between democracy and its saboteurs, between fact and fiction. It’s time to take a stand,” Milbank wrote.
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The column appeared to have received the endorsement from multiple White House officials.
“Submitted for your consideration,” White House chief of staff Ron Klain told journalists on Twitter.
Among other Biden aides who shared the piece include White House Deputy Press Secretary Andrew Bates and White House Senior Associate Communications Director Matt Hill, who tweeted, “No comment. Just a good read.
CNN repeatedly paraded the column on-air. The network’s left-wing media guru Brian Stelter said Milbank’s piece was “getting lots of buzz from liberals” and invited a former Media Matters operative to back up the column on his Sunday media show “Reliable Sources.”
On Monday, Milbank himself was invited onto CNN’s “New Day” where co-anchor Brianna Keilar called the study “fascinating.”
“So if you’re a news consumer… what do you think the takeaway is here?” Keilar asked.
“Well, I look at it from the point of view of the news producers. And I think we really need to do some soul-searching and think about what it is we’re delivering to people,” Milbank responded. “And I think the media consumer may, you know, should look at what we’re saying with a grain of salt knowing that, you know, we see it as our job to be negative, to be adversarial but there’s a real problem when we’re being just adversarial just because a guy didn’t pass a bill as we are as a guy when he’s trying to overthrowing democracy.”
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Milbank also appeared on MSNBC’s “The ReidOut” after host Joy Reid dinged the media for its “business as usual” operation in the post-Trump era to discuss the column.
Reid later on asserted that the media never had a political bias but rather one in favor of “conflict,” claiming the media “generally disliked the Obama administration” saying former President Obama “couldn’t even wear a tan suit” and the media would “go ballistic” since he wasn’t as accessible.