Many in the media aren’t happy that the special counsel investigating President Joe Biden’s alleged mishandling of classified documents described the president to the public as “a sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory.”
Special Counsel Robert Hur released the report on Thursday, declining to prosecute what he described as the president’s illegal, willful retention and disclosure of classified materials because a jury would be unlikely to convict Biden in light of his poor mental capacity. In interviews with investigators, Biden failed to recall what years he entered and left office as vice president and couldn’t remember “even within several years” when his son Beau died, according to the report.
The press leapt to claim the findings exonerated Biden, and a number of media figures were incensed by the suggestion that a president whose repeated gaffes have called into question his mental fitness would face such criticism. Hosts, roundtable talking heads, and interviewees on cable news were outraged by the “use of adjectives and adverbs” that reflected poorly on Biden and downplayed his tendency to “[go] down verbal cul-de-sacs” as part of his “brand.”
CNN said questions about Biden’s mental fitness “certainly reek of ageism and come across as cruel,” a defense the media have employed repeatedly during Biden’s tenure. Outlets including the New York Times and NPR were more concerned with what Republicans would say than the finding that the president couldn’t remember important, recent details of his own life.
The press hasn’t always been so defensive about the mental well-being of a president. Shortly after Trump took office, the media rushed to find any psychiatrist or psychologist they could find to suggest his mental health was putting the world at risk. When Trump walked slowly down a ramp at West Point and lifted a water glass with two hands in June 2020, the press implied something was deeply wrong. CNN ominously warned at the time that the incident had “many speculating about whether he [Trump] was in ill health” because he “looks frail.”
And don’t worry about Biden. His team has an excuse for why the president’s brain wasn’t working. The interviews in question took place right after the Hamas attacks against Israel on Oct 7. Apparently stressful world events are just too much for the octogenarian.
The President’s “interview began the day after the October 7 attacks on Israel.” https://t.co/wMaGfaTsuv
— Ben LaBolt (@WHCommsDir) February 8, 2024