A new AP-NORC poll is out and, consistent with earlier polling results, shows that there remains a disconnect between the media coverage and public opinion over the Biden corruption scandal. Despite the continued dismissal or downplaying of the scandal by many in the media, a massive 68 percent of Americans believe that President Biden acted either illegally or unethically in his involvement in his son’s foreign dealings.
The largest group (36%) believe that the president has done something illegal. The second largest group (33%) believed Biden has done something unethical.
Only 30% of American adults believe Biden has “not done anything wrong” as he has repeatedly claimed. It seems like the same 30% has remained supportive on every issue for Biden — the same unchanging support that we have found at the extremes of every poll for both Biden and Trump.
Notably, however, 40% of Democrats now believe Biden has done something illegal or unethical in his handling of his son’s business dealings.
The percentage is overwhelming among Republicans at 96%.
What should worry Biden is that 74% of the key independent vote believes that he has done something illegal or unethical.
What is most striking about these polls is that the public has reached these conclusions despite a media that is overwhelmingly protective of the President. Most major media outlets downplayed or ignored the Hunter Biden laptop story while adopting ever-changing narratives to excuse the President’s role.
Just this week, the Boston Globe ran a story titled “Attacking Biden, GOP tries to have it both ways; He’s old and feeble — and a master criminal?” Of course, you do not have to be a genius to engage in influence peddling. You just need to be corrupt. Menendez was no Brainiac in taking cash and cars from foreign sources. Moreover, one of Hunter Biden’s corrupt clients reportedly viewed him as dumber than his dog but still gave him millions. The labyrinth of shell companies and accounts were set up by others, not the President or his son.
Despite the media running cover for the Bidens for years, the public is just not buying it. Indeed, they are not buying the media. The Washington Post recently acknowledged that it will lose $100 million and announced a new round of layoffs or buyouts.
CEO Patty Stonesifer blamed the continuing loss of readers and revenues on being “overly optimistic” about its growth in readership, subscriptions and ads for the past two years. There is a continued effort at failing media outlets to blame their losses on everything other than their embrace of advocacy journalism and writing off half of the country with its strident political bias.
In fairness to Stonsifer, advertising revenues are down for newspapers with the rise of digital sources for the news. However, the embrace of non-traditional sources of news is not, in my view, entirely due to technological or platform changes.
Much like some companies pursuing woke agendas despite opposition from their consumers, media executives cannot acknowledge that their brand of journalism may be at fault. Editors at the Post and other leading outlets have rejected objectivity in favor of advocacy for journalists — blurring the line between reporting and commentary. That was evident recently when the Post publicly reaffirmed that it was standing by the false reporting of Philip Bump on a variety of disproven stories. These are conspiracy theories and false claims that have been long debunked from Lafayette Park to the Hunter Biden laptop but the Post just declared that Bump was correct.
For his part, Bump recently became irate when confronted with his past false claims, declaring “I just I’m gonna lose my mind. I’m gonna lose my mind.”
Notably, the interviewer explained that many do not believe his reporting and Bump dismissed them as uninformed and said that they need to listen to him as the expert on such matters.
Noam Dworman asked “is there nothing we can talk about … half the country believes this stuff.”
Bump: “I know, because half the country doesn’t actually dig into the issues.”
Dworman: “Here’s your chance to disabuse people. They don’t read the Washington Post.”
Bump responded: “There’s just no point, because all you want to do is you want to have me here as the putative expert so that you can present me with things that have been debunked multiple times that I’ve written about.”
Dworman: “What’s been debunked?”
Bump: “These, these claims. I’ve written about this, this argument about his dad calling him. I’ve written about this. Did you read what I wrote?”
Dworman: “It’s not debunked. Neither of us were there.”
Bump: “Well, I debunked it in the standpoint that I’ve already addressed this and presented the counterarguments to it.”
Before leaving, Bump explained that there was little value to explaining his past claims “because you don’t listen to the press. I’m sitting here and I’m telling you, you’re wrong about these things, and you don’t listen, and you continue to insist upon things that are, you know, parsing of language. And it’s just, it’s this is why I keep saying it’s silly.”
Once again, the Post recently stood by Bump’s past false claims.
This is why the Stonesifer’s account is so striking. She assured staff that “we are working to find ways to return our business to a healthier place in the coming year.” That “healthier place” could be with more balanced reporters.
There are still excellent journalists at the Post who can restore balance in its coverage and regain the trust (and business) of readers. However, it requires a bit of self-awareness and reexamination on the part of the owner and the editors. Instead, the Post continues to write for that same 30% revealed in the poll by the AP, which steadfastly supports the Bidens despite rising evidence of corrupt influence peddling and false statements. You cannot sustain a major publication on 30% of the readership while writing off any conservatives or independents who want balanced coverage.
The disconnect in these polls shows that many in the public are simply dismissing the common narrative of the media. The uniformity in much of the coverage, particularly in the Biden corruption scandal, leaves many with the feeling of a de facto state media. That appearance is not helped with the White House giving marching orders to the media on how to attack the investigations into the Biden family while powerful Democrats warn reporters to “back off” the Bidens.
I have been a columnist and a television analyst for roughly three decades. I have written for papers like the Washington Post and worked for NBC, CBS, BBC, and Fox. I care deeply for the future of these media outlets. However, the lack of impact of the media on public opinion reflects the record low levels of trust in the media found in numerous polls.
That is the result, in my opinion, of the embrace of advocacy journalism and echo chamber coverage.
The “healthier place” for the media is the very place that many reporters abandoned in the past with the tradition of objectivity and neutrality in journalism.