In her first White House press briefing, soon after the sun set on Inauguration Day, President Joe Biden's press secretary, Jen Psaki, was mostly pressed by the assembled journalists about ... the enumerated deficiencies of former President Donald Trump. NBC's Peter Alexander put Team Biden on the side of Truth boldly facing off against Lies.
"The battle for truth may be as tough a fight right now as is the battle against coronavirus," Alexander proclaimed. "How do you and President Biden plan to combat disinformation that, in many ways, led to that assault we witnessed two weeks ago today on the Capitol?"
This obsequious so-called question came to mind after CNN published a story with the provocative headline "Biden inheriting nonexistent coronavirus vaccine distribution plan and must start 'from scratch,' sources say."
"Nonexistent"? If the Trump administration had a "nonexistent" vaccine strategy, how was the vaccine distributed across the country? This claim is self-evidently false. CNN somehow didn't have the talent or intelligence to Google the eight-page Department of Health and Human Services document on the administration's Operation Warp Speed vaccine strategy. Instead, CNN reporter MJ Lee was relying on anonymous Trump-trashing sources for her dishonest spin.
"Sources with direct knowledge" of Biden's COVID-related work professed shock at "what they saw as a complete lack of a vaccine distribution strategy" under Trump. "There is nothing for us to rework. We are going to have to build everything from scratch," a cowardly source claimed.
"Another source" said they "would have to essentially start from 'square one,'" adding, "Wow, just further affirmation of complete incompetence."
Then there was a named source, White House COVID coordinator Jeff Zients, who used the same lie and spin. "For almost a year now, Americans could not look to the federal government for any strategy," he claimed in defiance of reality.
Trump is easily portrayed as saying any strategy he unveiled was the best strategy ever. The CNN/Biden approach is the exact opposite, a wild and boastful exaggeration that there was zero planning, zip, nothing. You could argue Trump's plans were insufficient. But that wasn't enough: They had to lie for effect.
CNN has been one of the most energetic coronavirus scolds in the media, constantly kvetching that everything Trump did was too slow to save lives. So why would it accept Team Biden's suggestion that it would have to start distributing vaccines "from scratch"? Doesn't that sound like it will slow everything down?
It's too bad CNN "fact-checker" Daniel Dale isn't evaluating his own network. Instead, on his Twitter account, he promoted a CNN story lauding Biden's virus strategy headlined "Biden unveils Covid-19 plan based on 'science not politics' as he signs new initiatives."
This is like saying CNN's reporting is about "science not politics."
None of this spin is new. During the campaign, Biden routinely said in speeches that Trump had "surrendered, waved the white flag" on fighting the virus and "left the battlefield." CNN highlighted this transparently false claim as "news," the chyron reading, "BIDEN SLAMS TRUMP: 'OUR WARTIME PRESIDENT HAS SURRENDERED.'" So how did we get a vaccine before the end of 2020?
All of this cockeyed coronavirus "reporting" seems designed to present a stick-figure narrative that Trump displayed "homicidal negligence" in the COVID battle, to quote CNN's sulfurous analyst Carl Bernstein. Then the sun came out, and Science and Competence arrived on Inauguration Day, and every good thing that happens from now on is to Biden's credit. CNN reserves the right to keep blaming post-inauguration deaths on the Trump people.
Tim Graham is director of media analysis at the Media Research Center and executive editor of the blog NewsBusters.org.