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The Field Fills In

Not the Bee: WaPo Columnist Cries About How Much Worse Biden's Been Treated Than Trump By the Media

AP Photo/Susan Walsh

I assure you that this is a December 3 column from The Washington Post, and not a Babylon Bee article. But, Dana Milbank actually believes that "The media treats Biden as badly as — or worse than — Trump. Here’s proof." That "proof" is based off of 200,000 articles.

Milbank's beef started with a sampling of POLITICO Playbook headlines which are sensational in some regards,  but which also tell the truth.

Milbank bends over backwards to let readers know how much painstaking time was spent using artificial intelligence technology to analyze these articles. Emphasis is mine:

Artificial intelligence can now measure the negativity with precision. At my request, Forge.ai, a data analytics unit of the information company FiscalNote, combed through more than 200,000 articles — tens of millions of words — from 65 news websites (newspapers, network and cable news, political publications, news wires and more) to do a “sentiment analysis” of coverage. Using algorithms that give weight to certain adjectives based on their placement in the story, it rated the coverage Biden received in the first 11 months of 2021 and the coverage President Donald Trump got in the first 11 months of 2020.

The findings, painstakingly assembled by FiscalNote vice president Bill Frischling, confirmed my fear: My colleagues in the media are serving as accessories to the murder of democracy.

After a honeymoon of slightly positive coverage in the first three months of the year, Biden’s press for the past four months has been as bad as — and for a time worse than — the coverage Trump received for the same four months of 2020.

It's not that there's doubt over the time and effort put into such research. It's that Milbank thinks it's that that's the end of the story. 

It gets more concerning from there. For it appears that, unless they want to be those "accessories to the murder of democracy" as Milbank accuses them of being, they have a duty to provide positive coverage for President Joe Biden:

And yet Trump got press coverage as favorable as, or better than, Biden is getting today. Sure, Biden has had his troubles, with the delta variant, Afghanistan and inflation. But the economy is rebounding impressively, he has signed major legislation, and he has restored some measure of decency, calm and respect for democratic institutions.

We need a skeptical, independent press. But how about being partisans for democracy? The country is in an existential struggle between self-governance and an authoritarian alternative. And we in the news media, collectively, have given equal, if not slightly more favorable, treatment to the authoritarians.


How to explain why Biden would be treated more harshly than a president who actively subverted democracy? Perhaps journalists, pressured by Trump’s complaints about the press, pulled punches. Perhaps media outlets, after losing the readership and viewership Trump brought, think tough coverage will generate interest.

True, Milbank is writing an opinion column, but it also amounts to how he could use some fact-checking, especially when it comes to what he leaves out, and provided with a "missing context" rating.

In the beginning, as he's complaining about POLITICO headlines, Milbank also laments that "Even the extraordinary news that jobless claims had dropped to the lowest level in 52 years came with a qualifier: “BUT, BUT, BUT … don’t expect [the numbers] to immediately change Americans’ negative perceptions of the economy."

Milbank himself goes on to acknowledge that "Sure, Biden has had his troubles, with... inflation." His complaining is missing context in that while the unemployment level was better than expected, the jobs report for November illustrated that the economy added 210,000 jobs, well below the expected 550,000.

For his targeting of POLITICO, Milbank and Playbook co-author Ryan Lizza got into it over Twitter.

But, Milbank's huge omission comes when he even quotes Biden's use of "C'mon man" to mock Sen. John Barasso (R-WY) for pointing out that "More people have died of covid under President Biden than did in all of 2020."

Milbank may mock Barasso, and point out that "incredibly, they’re simultaneously blaming Biden for coronavirus deaths — deaths occurring almost entirely among the unvaccinated," but he doesn't acknowledge that Sen. Barasso is correct on the numbers, which Katie reported on last month. 

The column gained attention when Brian Stelter promoted it on his CNN show, the ironically titled "Reliable Sources."

Excerpts were also retweeted by the likes of MSNBC's Joy Reid, which should tell you all you need to know.


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