After Disastrous Debate, PBS’s Barron-Lopez Parrots Biden Campaign Happy Talk

June 28th, 2024 4:01 PM

Taxpayer-supported PBS kept its News Hour crew on deck for Thursday night’s first (and only?) Trump-Biden debate of the 2024 presidential election cycle, airing on CNN and simulcast on PBS. While other liberal networks were loaded with panic, PBS's White House reporter stuck to repeating the desperate campaign talking points. 

While Biden’s doddering, decrepit performance couldn’t be ignored (so much for recent PBS-aired claims that clips of Biden's decline were "edited") Laura Barron-Lopez launched PBS’s 17-minute post-debate discussion by spinning hard for Biden.

Barron-Lopez allowed, very mildly, that “The Democrats that I’ve been in contact with were not necessarily happy with the president’s performance [oh really now?]....they felt as though he got a bit stronger as the night went on, a bit more clear, drew more contrasts as the night went on.” The Democrats she talked to said Biden didn’t strike strong enough contrasts on abortion, immigration, and January 6. But then she relayed partisanship from the horse’s mouth – the Biden campaign:

Laura Barron-Lopez: The campaign on the other hand, a campaign source was texting me, saying that their internal polling, this is of course campaign polling, but their live internal polling, the dials as they were listening to voters as the debate was going on, they said that that internal polling showed that when Trump personally attacked Biden, called him the worst president, or when Trump tried to talk about the “suckers and losers” comments, which he made regarding veterans, which his chief of staff John Kelly said that he said, that when Trump tried to talk about that, that voters didn’t like Trump’s responses on those things, that they weren’t happy with that at all.

And that they also were not -- voters turned against Trump when they heard him talking about January 6 and the exchange between Biden and Trump on January 6, and when President Biden called Trump a convicted felon, that also seemed to register poorly for Trump with those voters.

PBS congressional reporter Lisa Desjardins was far more blunt, noting “the Trump team, Republicans, are declaring victory, that Biden came across just as the GOP said he would, that he “looked like someone had a hard time finding his words and in the beginning debate especially, that was the case.” She even brought up dark Democratic dreams of a replacement candidate.

Lisa Desjardins: House Democrats are in a very dark place right now…there is, I will say, in the ether, there are some even sort of raising this idea, like, should this be our nominee? Now that -- this is the worst moment. This is the worst moment. Is it realistic to think that there’s actually going to be a change in nominee? No, I don’t think so, and Democratic leadership that I’m also texting with, says no, that’s ridiculous. But that is how bad this moment is….

After that influx of reality, Barron-Lopez tried more happy talk, saying former Republicans wanted to hit the trail for President Biden and that the right-leaning state of North Carolina was “maybe gettable” for Biden.

Oddly, the PBS News Hour hosts promoted its own online “fact check” both before and after the debate but as it turned out, PBS farmed out the actual “fact checking” to Politifact, which has its own liberal bent. Here’s a taste. “Trump’s outlandish immigration claim” that Biden “allowed millions of people to come in here from prisons, jails and mental institutions” warranted a Pants on Fire! rating (as in “Liar, Liar…”). The Biden headlines were more favorable: “Biden’s close to the mark about immigration reductions.”

The Daily Signal issued its own less tilted, more comprehensive fact-check.