Thursday marks the one year anniversary of Joe Biden’s inauguration. And while the Democratic president is deeply unpopular and dealing with several policy failures, journalists had high hopes on January 20, 2021. They compared the Democrat to Abraham Lincoln, called him our “papa-in-chief,” hailed the return of “facts and truth.” It’s quite the contrast to the actual results of the President who has begun to poll in the mid 30s.
On inauguration day, Chuck Todd gushed, “He is the better angel president. Joe Biden believes – he’s eternally optimistic. He’s not cynical.” Todd rhapsodized, “[Biden is] never cynical. He still thinks the better angels exist, and it was just such an important moment.”
According to George Stephanopoulos on ABC, “Unity [is] the theme of the day, the theme of this inaugural ceremony, the theme of Joe Biden's presidential campaign, clearly going to be the early theme of his presidency. He said, my whole soul is in this, bringing America together.” Stephanopoulos described Biden as Lincoln-esque in his inauguration speech:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: [A]s Jon Karl was just talking about, echoes of Abe Lincoln right there.
PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN, MARK UPDEGROVE: Echoes of Lincoln on the eve of Civil War in 1861, the worst domestic crisis that we've ever faced as a nation….This, today, was a triumph of democracy.
CBS on inauguration day found the new president to be like a “priest” delivering a “homily.”
The middle it sounded like a homily. A breaking down of all this big language to simple colloquial terms. ‘I’m just talking to you. I’m in this vaunted position.’ But like a priest explaining something from the Bible or something.
Last January, MRC Director of Media Analysis Geoff Dickens compiled some of the best inauguration quotes from the day itself, as well as before and after. Here's a sampling: According to CNN, Biden gave America a “big hug.”
“Those lights that are, that are just shooting out from the Lincoln Memorial along the reflecting pool….It’s like almost extensions of Joe Biden’s arms embracing America. It was a moment where the new President came to town and sort of convened the country in this moment of remembrance, outstretching his arms.”
— CNN Political Director David Chalian on CNN’s Inauguration coverage, January 19, 2021.
Correspondent Byron Pitts: “Watching this moment, today’s inauguration felt more like a church service, right? And we see there, right after the sermon, the congregation doesn’t want to go home. People are hugging, shaking hands. I thought from Joe Biden today, certainly he was commander-in-chief, but he was also papa-in-chief. He gave a speech to comfort the nation.”
— ABC News’s live coverage of Joe Biden Inauguration, January 20.
“It was interesting as Trump’s plane was taking off, it started to snow exactly at that moment where I am, and it was almost like the Earth was being cleansed of this putridity.”
— Co-host Joy Behar on ABC’s The View, January 21.
The better angels president? Papa Biden? Metaphorically hugging American citizens? With a year's hindsight, these quotes and predictions about Biden are more than a little embarrassing. But don't worry, journalists won't learn anything and will continue to try and help the President.
For more examples from our FLASHBACK series, which we call the NewsBusters Time Machine, go here.