Office Hours: The worst of all the media’s false equivalences
The media keeps weighing Trump’s criminal indictments against Biden’s age, as if they balanced each other. Why no mention of Trump’s mental condition?
On a recent “Meet the Press,” the host explained that Trump and Biden are so close in the polls because they “both have significant liabilities with the American electorate.” What liabilities? “For Trump, they’re “the indictments and allegations of criminal wrongdoing,” said the host. For Biden? “His age.”
Whoa. Seeking to balance Trump’s criminal indictments against Biden’s age is the ultimate false equivalence.
Biden is old. But so is Trump. They’re just three years apart. If Trump wins the presidency next year, he’ll be the oldest person ever elected to the White House.
But Trump is not facing nearly the same scrutiny for his age as is Biden. Yet Trump should be — especially when it comes to Trump’s mental competence.
Biden is sane. Trump is nuts — and his condition seems to be getting worse.
Media coverage shapes people’s perceptions, which they then feed back to the media through polls, which the media then report as if the media played no role in shaping those perceptions.
During the summer, the media made a big deal of Biden’s tripping at the Air Force Academy’s graduation ceremony. And last year, calling on a congresswoman at a public event who had died a month earlier.
There was also the false claim that Biden fell asleep during a memorial for the Maui wildfire victims (Fox News host Sean Hannity circulated a low-quality video on social media to push that claim, even though a clearer version of the moment showed that the president simply looked down for about 10 seconds).
Since the 2020 election, Trump has called Biden “Sleepy Joe” and questioned his intelligence. “You look at him, he can’t walk to the helicopter. He walks — he can’t lift his feet out of the grass,” Trump said, adding that Biden is “physically incapable and he’s mentally worse than physical. And if he gets to the starting gate, it would be a miracle to me.”
No wonder a quarter of adults associate Biden with words related to age — “old,” “infirm,” “senile.” When it comes to Trump, the words that come to the public’s mind are “corrupt,” “criminal,” and “crooked.”
Yes, Trump is a criminal. But he’s also out of his mind, and his condition is getting worse.
For over eight years, America has witnessed Trump’s weird sociopathic behavior — culminating in an attempted coup.
Trump is now hurling streams of invective at judges, prosecutors, and prospective witnesses in his criminal trials — practically daring the presiding judges to put him in jail.
Late Friday night, Trump wrote that Mark Milley, America’s top general, deserved to be put to “death” because he reassured China after the attack on the Capitol that Trump would not attack China. (Milley’s phone call was, in fact, explicitly authorized by Trump administration officials.)
Are these the ravings of a sane person?
Can you imagine the uproar if Biden simply mispronounced Milley’s name?
Biden’s age is important — but so is Trump’s.
In particular, Biden is mentally competent. Trump is not. This should be the comparison, rather than the false equivalence of Biden’s age with Trump’s alleged criminality.
So here’s today’s Office Hours question: Why is the media obsessed with Biden’s age but not reporting on Trump’s serious mental impairments?
Please share your thoughts, and if you’re so inclined, take our poll: