Trying to Stay Ahead of the News Cycle

I get the feeling this post could be obsolescent practically any minute. So I'll try to type fast.

But the general theme today is: these people were shamelessly lying to you. And maybe to themselves too; that's a well-known mental malady.

First up, a chorus singing from the same page of the hymnal:

A rebuttal from Mr. F. Leghorn:

You may remember that on June 4 (June 5 print edition) the WSJ published a scary story: Behind Closed Doors, Biden Shows Signs of Slipping. First couple paragraphs:

When President Biden met with congressional leaders in the West Wing in January to negotiate a Ukraine funding deal, he spoke so softly at times that some participants struggled to hear him, according to five people familiar with the meeting. He read from notes to make obvious points, paused for extended periods and sometimes closed his eyes for so long that some in the room wondered whether he had tuned out.

In a February one-on-one chat in the Oval Office with House Speaker Mike Johnson, the president said a recent policy change by his administration that jeopardizes some big energy projects was just a study, according to six people told at the time about what Johnson said had happened. Johnson worried the president’s memory had slipped about the details of his own policy.

The reaction was brisk! From Media Matters on June 6: The Wall Street Journal’s story about Biden “slipping” is comically weak.

Republicans and their right-wing media propagandists have spent the last four years smearing President Joe Biden as mentally infirm. That argument keeps exploding in their faces when Biden appears before a national audience in debates and speeches, but the president’s mental acuity is a frequent subject of media attention, and polls show voters are concerned about Biden’s age.

That’s the context for the 3,000-plus-word investigation that The Wall Street Journal published Tuesday night, which concludes that “Behind Closed Doors, Biden Shows Signs of Slipping” based largely on the complaints of anonymous Republicans who hope Biden loses to Donald Trump in November so the party can implement its agenda of tax cuts for the wealthy, restrictions on abortions, and political retribution. The Republican National Committee, Trump’s campaign, and the legion of MAGA supporters, eager for a subject that isn’t their candidate's felony conviction, instantly jumped on the story.

OK, Media Matters is obviously partisan. But how about CNN? On June 6: The Wall Street Journal’s story about Biden’s mental acuity suffers from glaring problems.

[…] an examination of the report reveals a glaring problem: Most of the sources reporters Annie Linskey and Siobhan Hughes relied on were Republicans. In fact, buried in the story, the reporters themselves acknowledged that they had drawn their sweeping conclusion based on GOP sources who, obviously, have an incentive to make comments that will damage Biden’s candidacy.

That's from Oliver Darcy's Reliable Sources. Also amusing from Oliver pre-debate: Right-wing media figures are desperately pushing conspiracy theories about Biden ahead of the debate.

Donald Trump’s allies in right-wing media have a problem ahead of CNN’s presidential debate: They’ve set the bar too low for President Joe Biden.

Oliver, it turns out they didn't set it low enough.

Also "debunking" was Tom Jones at Poynter. The Wall Street Journal’s story on Biden’s mental fitness: fair or foul?. He leaves little doubt where he stands:

In the end, the Wall Street Journal piece with the spicy headline seemed to have more smoke than fire with one side of the aisle using a copy of the newspaper to fan the flames.

Well, that was then. And now? As Jim Geraghty says, the "respectable" sources are fessing up: Now It's Okay to Talk About Biden's 'Cognitive Decline'.

On the menu today: Now it can be told that plenty of people close to President Joe Biden have seen “a marked incidence of cognitive decline” in the past six months, that “an awful lot of major Democrats” have seen it but have publicly insisted that Biden is fine, and that Biden’s senior officials “curate the information being presented [to Biden] in an effort to avoid provoking a negative reaction.” Last week, I wrote that Joe Biden is overdue to move to a retirement home. Now we learn that the White House is effectively operating like a retirement home — “Don’t tell Grandpa the bad news, it will only get him agitated.” It is more than fair to ask who’s really running the country if Biden has become so mentally, emotionally, and physically fragile that he can’t handle being told bad news. And yet for Democrats, the objective between now and Election Day is to figure out how to get you to forget what you’ve seen and heard over the past four days or so.

Click over for more "news" that CNN et al. now feel it's safe for you to hear. Example from Carl Bernstein, yes that one:

These are people, several of them, who are very close to President Biden, who love him, have supported and been among — among them are some people who have raised a lot of money for him. And they are adamant that what we saw the other night . . . is not a one off, that there have been 15, 20 occasions in the last year and a half when the president has appeared somewhat as he did in that horror show that we witnessed.

And what’s so significant is the people that this is coming from, and also how many people around the president are aware of such incidents, including some reporters, incidentally, who have witnessed some of them. But here we see tonight, as these people say, President Biden at his absolute best and yet these people who have supported him, loved him, campaigned for him, see him often say that in the last six months, particularly, there has been a marked incidence of cognitive decline and physical [decline]. . . .

So [checks news sites] we'll see what happens next. As if I needed to say that.

Also of note:

  • Also: Is our children learning? Randal O'Toole has a good insight into the Bureaucratic Mind, Transportation Divison. Asking a reasonable question: Is Bicycling Improving?

    One of my many beefs with government planning advocates is that they tend to judge success by measuring inputs rather than outputs. A case in point is a group that calls itself People for Bikes that issued a report last week that claims that Bicycling Is Improving in Cities Across the U.S.

    Does it measure that improvement by the number of people cycling in those cities? Or by a reduction in bicycle fatalities and injuries from traffic accidents? No, it instead measure the miles of bike lanes, the reallocations of street space to dedicated bicycle use, reductions in automobile speed limits, and changes to intersections favoring bicyclists. The fact that these “improvements” have been accompanied by increased bicycle fatalities and reductions in bicycle commuting aren’t considered.

    People for Bikes ranked 2,300 U.S. cities by these measures and encourages cities to “improve their ranking” by doing more. But if doing these things doesn’t increase cycling or bicycle safety, there isn’t much point.

    The Census Bureau says that 731,272 people commuted to work by bicycle in 2022, down from 785,665 in 2012. That’s not an improvement.

    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Fatality and Injury Reporting System says that 907 bicycle riders lost their lives in urban traffic accidents in 2022, up from 506 in 2012. That’s not an improvement either.

    But the important thing is money, Randal!