Media's Democratic Debate Strategy: Revive Joe Biden's Struggling Campaign by Declaring Him the Winner

Democratic presidential candidates, former Vice President Joe Biden, participate in a Democratic presidential primary debate at the Gaillard Center, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020, in Charleston, S.C., co-hosted by CBS News and the Congressional Black Caucus Institute. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

The mainstream media are nothing if not predictable.

As my RedState colleagues and I have documented extensively here in recent weeks, numerous media types including MSNBC anchors like Chris Matthews, middle of the road Democratic strategists like James Carville, and panicked Never Trumpers like Jen Rubin and Bill Kristol have all been sounding alarm bells over Sen. Bernie Sanders’ star rising in the polls and in the presidential primaries and caucuses.

It would appear that the above-mentioned “Anybody but Trump” crowd has suddenly gone the “Never Bernie” route. So what are frustrated news figures and commentators to do in these type of situations?

Prop up the struggling candidate they think has a better chance of beating President Trump, that’s what.

I didn’t think it was possible for any serious political observer to watch Tuesday night’s Democratic debate and believe that Biden came out of it the clear winner. As is customary for him, he survived the debate only because no one landed a knockout punch on him.

Throughout most of it, he was a running gaffe machine, at one point even falsely proclaiming that “150 million people” had been killed by gun violence in America “since 2007.” He also angrily interrupted and spoke over Sen. Amy Klobuchar for a good minute, not letting her finish answering a question – something that would have landed Trump in major hot water with the press and cable news show guests.

Nevertheless, the narrative appeared to be pre-written into the cards for panelists at news networks like MSNBC and CNN, who were singing Biden’s praises well into the night:

Curtis Houck at Newsbusters wrote about the “pro-Biden and anti-Sanders conga line” at MSNBC:

MSNBC was a much better mood following Tuesday night’s 2020 Democratic presidential debate, expressing hope going forward because former Vice President Joe Biden “looked presidential,” “had his best night,” “had his act together,” and came across as “substantive.”

[…]

Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson concurred with Matthews, asserting that “Biden probably had his best debate” since “he was not just forceful, but he was substantive,” “a lot better,” and “strong…on foreign policy.”

[…]

The pro-Biden and anti-Sanders conga line continued with University of Texas’s Victoria Defrancesco Soto, boasting that “Biden had a great night because he looked presidential” and especially on the coronovirus.

“[H]e talked about what he would do as president dealing with issues such as these. So for Biden, it wasn’t just the foreign policy. It was also the presidentialism that he brought with it. It was the energy,” she added.

Not surprisingly, they peppered in some criticisms of Bernie Sanders’ performance in the middle of praising Biden’s. This was crucial for them to do since Sanders has come pretty close to closing the polling gap in South Carolina just days in advance of their presidential primary.

But it wasn’t just MSNBC and CNN. Politico did a round-up of their campaign reporters’ reactions, and they all concurred that Biden had a great night, possibly even won it.

“Sanders may have had the best night, functionally, since nobody hit him in a way that is likely to damage him. But Biden might have saved his candidacy with the performance he turned in,” opined Politico’s David Siders

“The Biden that his supporters and team always wanted finally showed up Tuesday night. He was substantive, feisty and forceful. Biden needs South Carolina to keep his presidential bid alive. He showed that tonight,” stated Politico’s Natasha Korecki.

“Biden was energetic and funny, and the consensus seems to be that he delivered one of his best performances this cycle — not a bad media narrative to have days away from South Carolina, which is a must-win primary for him. Warren was sharp, too,” said Politico’s Holly Otterbein.

I could go on and on, but you get the picture.

In the general election between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in 2016, the media did their best to drag Clinton over the finish line. They’re doing the same thing for Biden in the 2020 Democratic primaries, not so much because they like Biden but because the media narrative from day one has been that Biden has the best shot of defeating Trump.

But even with their last minute help, I don’t think he’s going to do well in South Carolina, even if he does end up being the winner. Biden has to finish with a strong, commanding lead in South Carolina Saturday (not just a one point victory), or his campaign for all intents and purposes will be over.

Sister Toldjah
North Carolina-based Sister Toldjah, a former liberal, has been writing about media bias, social issues, and the culture wars since 2003. Follow her on Parler here.
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