The press’s coverage of the incoming Biden administration suggests we are in for at least four excruciatingly long years of subservient, suck-up news reporting from our vaunted Fourth Estate, that bulwark of our democracy.
From cheering the likely first openly gay, Senate-confirmed Cabinet secretary to hailing the first all-female White House communications team, journalists at establishment newsrooms have made one thing clear: They are excited about the Biden presidency.
It’s a whiplash change of pace for an industry that has spent the past four years ignoring the Trump White House accomplishments all while obsessing over its faults and flaws, both real and imagined.
“When Joe Biden tapped Antony Blinken to be his Secretary of State,” the New Yorker reported Thursday, “a quick batch of thumbnail bios noted that he was a ‘guitar aficionado.’ What, exactly, did this mean? [Staff writer Nick Paumgarten] investigates.”
In contrast, here is a headline that the New Yorker published in 2016 after it was announced former ExxonMobile CEO Rex Tillerson would take the top spot at Foggy Bottom: “Rex Tillerson, from a Corporate Oil Sovereign to the State Department.”
At National Public Radio, news that Biden has picked former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg to serve as secretary of transportation has been treated as matter-of-factly; nothing to worry about.
“Pete Buttigieg,” NPR reports, “said he has a ‘personal love of transportation,’ recounting train trips on Amtrak while in college, and said he proposed to his now-husband, Chasten, in an airport terminal.”
There is not a word in the article about the former mayor’s obvious lack of qualifications or experience.
Earlier, however, NPR was very much concerned about relevant experience in 2016, when Betsy DeVos was nominated to serve as the secretary of education.
“President-elect Donald Trump has picked [a] billionaire … Michigan Republican and philanthropist who is a strong supporter of school choice but has limited experience with public education,” the group reported.
If only DeVos had told a maudlin romance anecdote involving schools, she might have scored better press. (Or does that not work for conservatives?)
Elsewhere, top New York Times White House correspondent Maggie Haberman stood in awe this week of Biden’s incoming White House deputy chief of staff Jen O'Malley Dillon, who spoke perhaps a bit too bluntly in a recent interview with Glamour magazine about her professional career, motherhood, and what it will take for the incoming administration to succeed.
“Putting aside everything else,” said Haberman, “it is rare to hear a woman speaking unapologetically and unselfconsciously about life having kids and an intense job. The kind of thing men aren’t often asked to think twice about but women are always expected to.”
Did Haberman sleep through all the Senate confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett? More seriously, several mothers have worked high-level positions in the Trump administration, taking on some of the most tasking and intense jobs available in any White House. Media outlets such as Glamour never bothered to ask.
They know we can see what they're doing, right?