The media is treating President Joe Biden worse than Donald Trump — even though the latter was responsible for "the most dishonest, incompetent, and scandal-ridden Republican presidency imaginable," according to New York magazine columnist Jonathan Chait.
And the reason, Chait writes, is fairly simple.
Citing the media's "relentlessly critical coverage" of Biden's Afghanistan withdrawal, Chait notes that this seems to be "a regular feature of Democratic presidencies." He acknowledges that the "mainstream media" gave Trump "harsh and even overtly hostile coverage," but he adds that the "the mainstream media only describes roughly half the media landscape."
"The other half of the media is a right-wing messaging apparatus that makes no effort to follow traditional journalistic norms," Chait writes. "If you want to understand the strange difficulty that Joe Biden's sane, competent administration has in yielding measurably higher approval than Trump's insane, incompetent presidency, the asymmetrical relationship between the two parties and their respective media environments is the most important place to start."
Chait acknowledges that the mainstream media has some liberal bias, but he says a more important factor is its tendency to focus on bad news with "scary headlines" — and he says the effects are clear.
"Most Democratic voters will experience Democratic administrations as a mixed bag, at best. Republican voters, who mostly absorb the news through party-aligned media, will experience Republican administrations as an unmitigated triumph," Chait writes. "The four-year experiment in Trump proved conclusively just how low the conservative media's standards of truthfulness and competence are for a Republican president. If nothing else, Trump proved conservative media will support anything its party's leader does."
The end result, Chait says, is that Republican politicians don't have to hold themselves to any real standard — other than standing firm with their political base.
"Republicans have the freedom to dismiss negative revelations as the liberal media, a luxury Democrats don't have," he writes. "When you combine that near impunity from damaging news stories with the Republican ability to win control of government with a minority of the votes, you go a long way toward explaining the incentive structure that has turned the GOP into the party it is today."