Looking at ‘Context’: MTP Panel Says Biden’s Lies Make Him ‘Reaganesque’

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It wasn’t just ABC stepping in to defend former Vice President Joe Biden from the false war story he was peddling at campaign events. During Sunday’s Meet the Press panel on NBC, the mostly liberal panel swooped in on Biden’s behalf to argue that President Trump’s lies were insidious, while the former VP’s were about American heroism. The panel demanded context be considered, while suggesting Biden’s falsehoods made him look like former President Ronald Reagan.

Former Obama Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson wanted everyone to “give Joe a break” because he’s “a storyteller. He makes his points through anecdotes, through stories. And he's probably thinking let's not get the small details in the way of a very powerful story. And so, I'd give him a break on this.”

“And apparently the person on whom he pinned the medal acknowledged that he actually got the medal,” he added. Except, there was the fact that Biden was talking about the wrong guy and the wrong kind of medal and the wrong place. But who keeps track of facts?

Johnson then suggested Biden’s falsehoods were fine because “the point he's trying to make is not self-aggrandizement, it’s simply to demonstrate the heroism of the men and women in our U.S. military, which is a totally valid point.”

From there, Johnson wanted to compare Biden to President Reagan:

Though, noting he said in the address was technically wrong, he conveyed the impression that he was buried at Arlington but he was actually buried in Wisconsin. But, the larger point still stands about American heroism in a time of war. And I think, you know, this kind of thing, particularly compared to the current incumbent in the White House, should not, you know, be a big problem for him.

 

 

Moderator Chuck Todd picked up on the Reagan comparison and ran with it in a question to Danielle Pletka of the American Enterprise Institute. “Dani, it's an interesting comparison because there's a part of Biden that seems more Reagan-esque. That way you’re like, ‘Oh, it's grandpa, it's Uncle Joe.’ Whatever that is. ‘Eh, let the old man do it,’” he said.

Seemingly to give cover to how the media was covering the story, Shawna Thomas, the Washington bureau chief of Vice News, wanted to address the “Uncle Joe situation” and argued: “it’s interesting because we’re living in the age of Donald Trump, and that changes how we perceive and cover Joe Biden.”

Thomas went on to argue that President Trump’s lies were worse than Biden’s because they were of a more insidious nature, rather than ones designed to set a reassurance about his ability to be president like Biden’s supposedly were:

But we have to cover it with context. Those are two different situations. When Trump lies, it's about Google and Google changing votes and making you scared about things. When Joe Biden lies, it's about trying to say he's going to be commander-in-chief and he understands heroism. I think context is super important, but it doesn't mean we ignore Joe Biden's gaffes.

“Context and nuance, they’re hallmarks of presidential campaign coverage,” Todd quipped to the laughter of the panel as they went to a commercial break.

The transcript is below, click "expand" to read:

NBC’s Meet the Press
September 1, 2019
11:10:44 a.m. Eastern

CHUCK TODD: Jeh Johnson, this does seem to be a problem for Biden. To me, more of a primary than a general. The comparison—Trump, to me, is a shield for him on this stuff.

JEH JOHNSON: I'd give Joe a break. Joe's a storyteller. He makes his points through anecdotes, through stories. And he's probably thinking let's not get the small details in the way of a very powerful story. And so, I'd give him a break on this. And apparently the person on whom he pinned the medal acknowledged that he actually got the medal.

ANDREA MITCHELL: Yes.

JOHNSON: So, the point he's trying to make is not self-aggrandizement, it’s simply to demonstrate the heroism of the men and women in our U.S. military, which is a totally valid point.

Anybody here remember Martin Treptow? Martin Treptow was Reagan's closer in his first inaugural address, one of the best inaugural addresses in modern history. And he closed with the story of a World War I hero named Martin Treptow.

Though, noting he said in the address was technically wrong, he conveyed the impression that he was buried at Arlington but he was actually buried in Wisconsin. But, the larger point still stands about American heroism in a time of war. And I think, you know, this kind of thing, particularly compared to the current incumbent in the White House, should not, you know, be a big problem for him.

TODD: Dani, it's an interesting comparison because there's a part of Biden that seems more Reagan-esque. That way you’re like, “Oh, it's grandpa, it's Uncle Joe.” Whatever that is. “Eh, let the old man do it.”

(…)

SHAWNA THOMAS: I also think that when it comes to Joe Biden—the Uncle Joe situation, it’s interesting because we’re living in the age of Donald Trump, and that changes how we perceive and cover Joe Biden.

But we have to cover it with context. Those are two different situations. When Trump lies, it's about Google and Google changing votes and making you scared about things. When Joe Biden lies, it's about trying to say he's going to be commander-in-chief and he understands heroism. I think context is super important, but it doesn't mean we ignore Joe Biden's gaffes.

TODD: Context and nuance, they’re hallmarks of presidential campaign coverage.

[Laughter]

(…)

NB Daily Campaigns & Elections 2020 Presidential Bias by Omission Conspiracy Theories Double Standards Broadcast Television NBC Meet the Press Video Jeh Johnson Chuck Todd Shawna Thomas Donald Trump Joe Biden

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