One thing has been consistent across most polling of the presidential race so far: Voters – of both parties – are very concerned about President Joe Biden’s age.
In fact, according to a new CBS News/YouGov poll, when registered voters are asked whether they think Biden will be able to complete a second term, only 34 percent said yes, 44 percent believe he would “leave before it ended,” while the rest are unsure.
At the same time, 55 percent believe that former President Donald Trump would be able to finish a second term, per Axios’ story about the poll. Trump’s polling figure is higher than Biden’s, however still relatively low.
The poll also has Biden and Trump nearly tied in a hypothetical general election contest, with 50 percent backing Trump and 49 percent supporting Biden.
Joe Biden’s Age is a Hot Button to Press
In recent days, some resistance has built up, among some who support Biden and liberal columnists, that it’s wrong for the media to focus so much on Biden’s age.
According to this narrative, the focus on the president’s age represents the media wishing to approach the likely presidential election matchup in a “both sides” way, in order to draw a moral equivalence between Trump’s multiple indictments, as well as his other misdeeds and defects, with the president being 80 years old. Many who feel this way have compared the Biden age issue with the Hillary Clinton email issue from 2016.
“I worry the ‘Biden is old’ coverage is starting to take on the same character as the 2016 But Her Emails coverage — find something that is genuinely suboptimal about the Democratic candidate, and dwell on it endlessly to ‘balance’ coverage of the criminal in charge of the GOP,” journalist Ian Millhiser wrote on X, formerly Twitter.
Columnist Paul Walkman, on MSNBC.com, made a similar argument.
“If you thought the news media had learned anything from its absurd coverage of Hillary Clinton’s emails in 2016, think again. President Joe Biden’s age is shaping up to serve almost exactly the same purpose,” Waldman wrote last week. “What began with legitimate questions is trending toward obsession, an easy way for reporters to show how ‘objective’ they are by burying the Democratic candidate in an avalanche of negative coverage. And like 2016, this farcical framing threatens to blot out far more important criteria on which voters might base their decisions.”
This is part of a challenge that the media has faced for as long as Trump has been in politics. How can they report honestly and truthfully about Trump, when reporting the truth makes him look bad all the time? And if they report the truth about Trump frequently, how can they answer charges of bias? There are no right or easy answers to these questions, and the media still hasn’t solved them, nearly a decade into the Trump era.
That said, the media has to report on other candidates too, and they need to report honestly on them as well. And the fact is, President Joe Biden really is 80 years old, that does matter, and every poll shows that it’s something about which voters are concerned.
As Waldman acknowledges, “It’s perfectly fine to ask how age is affecting Biden; he’s already the oldest president, and he’ll be older still in a second term. But if we’re going to ask the question, we ought to answer it, too, rather than asking the question over and over again.”
Plus, it’s not as though the media isn’t reporting on Trump’s indictments and other bad things he’s done. They are, very regularly. And “the media” isn’t a monolith. Different reporters report on different aspects and have separate beats. It does appear that there are some in the Democratic camp who wholeheartedly believe that the media’s job should be to help Democrats win, to defeat Trump, and that if they don’t do that, it’s their fault when Republicans win. This, also, isn’t how journalism works.
Author Expertise and Experience
Stephen Silver is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He is an award-winning journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Stephen has authored thousands of articles over the years that focus on politics, technology, and the economy for over a decade. Follow him on X (formerly Twitter) at @StephenSilver, and subscribe to his Substack newsletter.
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