Resolute Square

Media Mistakes Are Endangering Democracy

The media still underestimate Biden and their own role In fueling MAGA. Joe Trippi writes that the problem of what the media misses is almost as bad for democracy as what it reports.
Published:February 2, 2023

The Media Still Underestimate Biden and Their Own Role In Fueling MAGA

The punditry class still doesn’t get it. If you listen to them, Biden’s best day was supposed to be the day he announced for President in 2019. From there, it would all be downhill, they said. Democrats would be crushed by a massive Red Wave in the 2022 midterms because Biden was so unpopular, they said. Now it's speculation about who will run if Biden doesn’t or vague stories about Democrats' supposed worries if he seeks re-election. Guess what?

Wrong again.

This isn't even the tip of the iceberg. There is a lot more they got wrong, and even more they missed. Instead of covering the most successful first two years of an administration in memory, they chased and amplified the latest FOXNews cult right-wing media outrage. Instead of reality, the media followed the noise, and with the MAGA House in session, there will be a lot more anti-Biden noise to chase and, yes, amplify. They are doing it already.

The media just can’t break the cycle. Bluffed by an avalanche of obviously questionable polls predicting that “huge Red Wave,” the media not only took the bait — outlet after outlet ran with it. Through it all, and still today, no matter how good the economic news was or is — the media echoes the negative sentiment of the MAGA attacks: the economy could not be worse, it's all Biden’s fault, and, of course, that the nation is on the brink of the crippling horrors of RECESSION! The media even misses the most pressing risk to the country’s economy; the MAGA Cult-run House Majority threatening to throw the country into a doozy of a recession (or far worse) by refusing to raise the debt ceiling.

As White House Chief of Staff, Ron Klain tweeted (very politely) recently, “Apparently, the words ‘Biden's Plan is Working’ just are too hard to type.”

The fact-based arguments Simon Rosenberg, Tom Bonier, Greg Sargent, I, and others repeatedly made leading up to the midterms that there would be no Red Wave were almost universally ignored by the punditry. Clearly, no lessons were learned as they are now deaf to our efforts, particularly Simon’s, to breathe reality into coverage of the economic accomplishments of the Biden Administration.

Once again, the facts matter. Joe Biden came into office in the middle of a pandemic and the Trump administration’s terrible vaccine rollout. Biden’s administration inherited Trump’s purposeful teardown of historical international alliances and an America losing ground globally. Despite walking into Trump’s mess, Joe Biden went to work to do far more than just a return to decency and "restore the soul of America" – he got things done.

  • Joe Biden’s first two years were about real concrete investments in the American people, and they are paying off - three huge bills passed that we are seeing the effects of right now:

  • The Inflation Reduction Act is - you guessed it - reducing inflation. It's in line to create 1.5 million new jobs - mostly in the green and tech sectors, meaning they're also jobs Americans can count on for the long haul. I will write more on this soon, but this is how you counter the MAGA grievance machine. It's brilliant policy ju-jitsu by an administration that actually knows how to govern.

  • The CHIPS act is doing much of the same - taking a shaky industry the world depends on and moving it home. Creating jobs in places like Ohio and Arizona and hedging against aggression from China.

  • Oh - did I not mention the trillion-dollar infrastructure bill Joe Biden got done (with actually the last few Republicans who aren't beholden to ultra-MAGA?) You know, the bill Trump spent four years failing to pass?

Look at the numbers. In Q3 2022, the American GDP grew by 3.2%. In Q4, it was 2.9%. Those are huge numbers flying in the face of recession predictions.

Biden’s job investments paid off too. Rolling unemployment claims in January fell to 198,000, the lowest in 50 years -- remember, two years ago, when Biden took office, it was 828,000.

We are reducing our dependence on foreign oil. Last year despite what the media (and MAGA) might have you believe, we had record oil production, and America actually made a profit on how the administration deployed our Strategy Petroleum Reserves.

And this is one that must be repeated over and over and over, as Simon Rosenberg does. Joe Biden has seen five times the number of jobs created in just two years than Republicans saw created under their last three Republican Presidents *COMBINED.*

On the foreign policy side - look no further than how Biden has held together a strong pro-democracy coalition against Putin and in support of Ukraine. Despite a tough winter, Europe is holding strong -- with Germany the latest to send high-tech tanks to aid Ukraine’s continuing fight against Russian aggression. Putin's destabilization efforts are failing, and Ukraine is winning this war. In another blow to Putin’s aspirations, Finland and Sweden are on the verge of joining NATO. None of this happens without Joe Biden's steady leadership holding the coalition together. That is restoring American leadership on a global scale.

In sum, the economy has stabilized, inflation is trending down and in the right direction despite a pandemic and Putin’s war in Ukraine. And democracy is prevailing over autocracy both here and abroad.

This long list of Biden accomplishments are facts. My point here is not to merely state the obvious but to ask, why do I and our pro-democracy allies feel like we are shouting this into the void?

What the media is really missing is that MAGA, authoritarians, FOX News, and the cult right outrage machine thrive on driving negative sentiment, fear, and anger into the narrative - particularly in siloed social networks. It’s a massive problem in a democracy when media outlets pick up and amplify that negative sentiment, fail to counter with the truth, and underreport or fail to report positive reality. In a world where punditry amplifies assaults on the truth and falsely reports that nothing has a positive impact on citizens, democracy itself loses the common glue that holds it together. Whether pundits wittingly or unwittingly repeat this pattern, MAGA and the authoritarians are counting on it.

Joe Biden has provided the contrast of calm, steady competent leadership with the chaos of Donald Trump. That contrast barely saved the day in 2020. That same contrast was at work in the face of a slew of MAGA chaos candidates across the country in 2022. It’s what stopped the Red Wave. And as we approach 2024, the MAGA-controlled House will be the chaos or the crazy again, in contrast with Biden and Democrats doing the work. It will be another hard-fought election. The fight will be at the ballot box, yes. But it will take more than that, and that’s where every member of the pro-democracy comes in: We have to get loud, people!

The media is failing democracy. We need media outlets that are biased for democracy and against its enemies that will take on the negative sentiment of MAGA and the negative bias of the punditry that intentionally, or not, fuels MAGA’s destructive threat to our democracy. It’s why I helped found Resolute Square. It’s why we need you to join us. It’s time to get loud. Loud exposing the lies, loud for the truth, loud, positive, and together to save to our democracy.