The Washington Post came up with the program and gave Biden recognition for not having “waited long to begin filling his administration and swearing in the best of the White House,” as if previous new presidents had been diligently trying to take over the reins. The New York Times swallowed the latest myth-making that turned Biden from a seedy politician into a statesman and forwarded his call Courtesy and unity and portrays him as disciplined, reserved Character when someone who has studied their career knows they are anything but.
Yes, yes, everyone can appreciate that the honeymoon public relations journalists’ coverage has been shaped for most of the new presidents. With that in mind, the outbreaks were no surprise. For one thing, he’s not Donald Trump, and that takes him far in the media. Also, reporters and analysts longed for something normal after witnessing the January 6th siege on the same steps as they kept saying when rioters had just walked hand in hand with the police. And the swearing-in of a Vice President who came from the African and South Asian diaspora gave the occasion a real and well-deserved boost.
However, this does not excuse the rhetorical overkill that the press has thrown so wastefully. CNN’s Jake Tapper, a normally sober commentator and reporter, was so moved by Biden-Harris’ visit to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier after the investiture that he helped himself a little game after game from the head of the new president. “I can’t imagine President Biden not thinking about his favorite soldier, Beau Biden, his son, who died of cancer, who was a major in the Army Reserve and whom he mourns very much,” intoned Tapper. Please, please, can we have a brief moratorium on future references from Beau Biden, unless strictly necessary?
On his Twitter feed, CNN Media Guy Brian Stelter actually complained that the Fox News Channel gashouse gang killed the happy day by criticizing the coverage. Freed from his previous self-abandonment to defend Trump’s staggering madness, that of the network Greg Gutfeld aimed at his competitors for their lapdoggery. “When the corporate press drools for Joe, they desperately spit on President Trump, the open-minded man, and try to outdo each other, who is relieved that our national nightmare is over,” Gutfeld said on Wednesday, making himself one of the blind Pigs who found a truffle.
Honest Biden acolytes would have to admit that Gutfeld had a point and that the press, in going overboard for Biden, was guilty of 1) hyping Joe; 2) raise expectations to a volume it may not be able to meet, and 3) give viewers and readers a reason to suspect, if not distrust, the brilliant Biden coverage. At a time when large sections of Americans believe mainstream media is a tool of the left, a little less bootlicking could help build trust among media skeptics.
It is true that the cries of joy from the television booths that greeted Biden were not only due to his inauguration or his political convictions. Presidents like Ronald Reagan, Bush I, and Bush II benefited from the first honeymoon coverage. But such demonstrations are most reliably received when Democrats take over the White House, and no Republican has ever received the treatment Barack Obama received when he was inaugurated in 2008 from MSNBC’s Chris Matthews famous admitted to “feel this thrill go up my leg” as Obama spoke.
The human impulse to treat an inauguration as a holy and sacred event resembling a coronation can never be removed, only suppressed. Until the United States shifts from a presidential system to a parliamentary form of government in which the top political leader can be overturned and replaced in a day without pomp or fuss, we stick with all the excitement of a new president.
Without dosing commentators, anchors, and reporters with Seconal to keep their central nervous system from overreacting to inauguration day procedures, perhaps we could embed a house cynic in every police network and newspaper, or at least suppress the irrational exuberance that rains at most initiations. Think of the house cynic as the one who is trusted to stay away from the sauce all night so that at the end of the party there is still a sober person standing to drive any drunk home safely.
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