By: Roger Aronoff
Accuracy in Media
While the attention of the world was on the first Republican presidential debates in Cleveland on Thursday night, the drama in the Democratic Party may soon overshadow anything the GOP has to offer. Look at what’s happening on the way to Hillary Clinton’s coronation in 2016. All of a sudden, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), a self-identified “democratic socialist,” is within striking distance in some of the key early primary states. But the real action is with Vice President Joe Biden. Will he or won’t he challenge Mrs. Clinton? That is the question.
If we take our cues from The New York Times, Hillary should be worried. First came the story about two inspectors general seeking a criminal referral involving Mrs. Clinton’s use of her email server while she was secretary of state, and the potential mishandling of classified material. Then, after pushback from the Clinton camp, the Times pulled back, to some extent. No, it wasn’t a criminal referral, they determined on second thought. Yet now the FBI has opened an investigation, and they only get involved when crimes are alleged, or there is the possibility that national secrets may have been compromised.
Are we witnessing a situation like 1968, when Eugene McCarthy entered the Democratic primary race against then-President Lyndon Johnson, and when McCarthy did well in New Hampshire, then-New York Senator Bobby Kennedy decided to jump into the race. Will Biden be Bobby Kennedy to Sanders’ Gene McCarthy, in terms of challenging the presumed Democratic Party standard bearer, once it has become clear that the standard bearer is vulnerable? Have the media and their allies in the Democratic Party decided that Hillary is too badly damaged, and ethically challenged to win the election?
The news media are star-struck by The New York Times, which, allegedly, provides “all the news that’s fit to print.” As Accuracy in Media has repeatedly demonstrated, the news that the Times editors actually see fit to print is often full of bias, inaccuracies, and complete spin. And, sometimes, the Times transparently involves itself in promoting or destroying candidates.
Maureen Dowd’s recent Times column, “Joe Biden in 2016: What Would Beau Do?,” begins by comparing scandal-plagued Hillary Clinton with Tom Brady, and then proceeds to promote Vice President Biden’s chances by recounting the emotional words that sons Beau and Hunter apparently used to encourage their father to run for president while Beau laid on his death bed, dying from brain cancer.
“When Beau realized he was not going to make it, he asked his father if he had a minute to sit down and talk,” writes Dowd. “Of course, honey,” said his father, she recounts.
At the table, Beau told his dad he was worried about him.
My kid’s dying, an anguished Joe Biden thought to himself, and he’s making sure I’m O.K.
‘Dad, I know you don’t give a damn about money,’ Beau told him, dismissing the idea that his father would take some sort of cushy job after the vice presidency to cash in.
Beau was losing his nouns and the right side of his face was partially paralyzed. But he had a mission: He tried to make his father promise to run, arguing that the White House should not revert to the Clintons and that the country would be better off with Biden values.
Hunter also pushed his father, telling him, ‘Dad, it’s who you are.’”
Where, exactly, could Dowd have received that heart-wrenching anecdote? Only from the friends, family, or supporters of the very person who some speculate may jump into the 2016 presidential race.
“And so I completely have faith in that Beau Biden anecdote,” exclaimed Helene Cooper on Meet the Press the next day. “I think it’s really telling.” Cooper believes Dowd’s story because, “Before she was a columnist, she was a fantastic political reporter. She has really good sources.”
“But, you know, when I think about what the Bidens have been through, and I think about that if Maureen’s sources are correct, then that son’s request is very powerful, I would think,” Kathleen Parker sympathetically added on Meet the Press.
No mention was made that The Wall Street Journal reported that both sons were “urging” the vice president to run for president—back in June. “Before his death last month, elder son Beau Biden encouraged his father to get into the race, people familiar with the matter said,” reported the Journal on June 28. “And Hunter Biden told a friend in recent weeks he, too, would like to see the vice president wage one more campaign for the White House.”
“It’s no secret that he’s thinking about this….I’m glad he’s thinking about this. But he hasn’t made up his mind,” said Beau Biden, the Times reported this April.
Beau’s consistent support for his father to become president is clearly nothing new. What’s new was the Times’ coming to the same conclusion as The Wall Street Journal. When the Times reports the story, even through a columnist as opposed to a reporter, it becomes a legitimate story for the rest of the media. We pointed out the likelihood of Biden’s entry into the race a month ago, based on the Journal and other stories out at the time.
Knowing the bitter history between the Clintons and Obama, one has to wonder about the timing of recent events. Did the FBI start their investigation, which isn’t being called a criminal investigation at this time, at the urging of President Obama, who would obviously prefer that Biden carry on his legacy, rather than Hillary? Obama could never trust Hillary to be loyal to his disastrous policies and controversial legacy. But Biden? Yes, he most likely would stay loyal to Obama. This has the potential to make the Republican race seem dull.