WaPo media critic blasts MSNBC: ‘Institutional denial and stubborn unwillingness to level with its viewers’

The Washington Post’s left-wing media critic took an ax this week to MSNBC over its super-biased coverage of President Joe Biden’s declining mental faculties.

Erik Wemple, who usually spends his days attacking conservative media, took a break from that on Thursday to instead aim his fire at MSNBC — a rare treat.

Of course, his leftism still shone through, as evidenced by his referring to former President Donald Trump as “a lying wreck of a man” and referring to Fox News as “the conspiracy channel.”

But, to his credit, this time he also slammed MSNBC for being in complete and total denial about special counsel Robert K. Hur’s damning report vis-a-vis the president’s cognitive abilities.

As previously reported, Hur essentially ruled that Biden had mishandled classified documents but isn’t worth prosecuting because he’s too old and senile to be convicted by a jury.

“As the debate churns [over Hur’s report], we need to look at the model laid out by MSNBC — one of institutional denial and stubborn unwillingness to level with its viewers,” Wemple wrote for the Post.

“In a discussion last Thursday night on Biden’s age and fitness for office, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow said, ‘He rides a bike.’ With that remark, Maddow put forth one of MSNBC’s more creative means of soft-pedaling the president’s declining faculties,” he added.

Maddow had been trying to debunk Hur’s conclusions, but Wemple clearly wasn’t impressed — justifiably so.

“What ensued on MSNBC airwaves was a pushback effort highlighted by Maddow’s velo-polemic plus a series of far wonkier talking points repeated well into the night, cheating every one of the network’s viewers,” Wemple continued.

He then moved on to addressing the time back in September of 2022 when speaking at an event in the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, the president gave a shout-out to Rep. Jackie Walorski, saying, “Jackie, are you here? Where’s Jackie?”

There was just one problem.

“Walorski … had died in a car crash more than a month before the event,” Wemple noted in his report. “Asked about the president’s calling out for a deceased lawmaker, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre struck a posture of implausible denial, saying the late congresswoman was ‘top of mind’ for Biden.”

To the establishment media’s credit, most of them ran reports about Biden’s remarks and Jean-Pierre’s attempt to defend them, including NPR, The Washington Post, and The New York Times.

But not all of them …

“MSNBC didn’t air it, as pointed out by media critics from the Hill, Fox News and Newsbusters,” Wemple explained. “There was no excuse, considering that the ‘Where’s Jackie’ episode — as well as Jean-Pierre’s subsequent obstructionism — was best appreciated on video.”

But it gets worse.

“MSNBC host Nicolle Wallace interviewed then-White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain just days after the ‘Where’s Jackie?’ episode, a perfect time for some accountability,” Wemple noted.

But surprise, surprise, there was no accountability to be found.

“[T]he question wasn’t about the actual episode; it was about what happened in a subsequent meeting between the president and Walorski’s grieving family,” Wemple explained. “After Klain gave an unspectacular answer, Wallace said, ‘We’ll leave it at that. Enough has been made of that story.’ Viewers were entitled to wonder what she was talking about.”

Turning then specifically to Hur’s report, Wemple noted that MSNBC had “scrambled to discredit the findings” immediately after the report’s release.

“The counteroffensive against Hur’s work splintered into a number of arguments, each of which got a lot of rotation on the network: Witnesses under oath commonly testify that they don’t recall things. Biden’s detractors couldn’t point to anything substantive — like a policy or initiative — that had been mishandled because of Biden’s lapses,” Wemple explained.

“Hur, a Trump appointee, was overstepping his boundaries by including gratuitous information while declining to prosecute, just as then-FBI Director James B. Comey did with the Hillary Clinton email investigation in 2016. … And Attorney General Merrick Garland had screwed up by allowing such ‘garbage’ in a Justice Department report, to quote MSNBC host Joe Scarborough,” he added.

Wrapping up his post, Wemple then argued that the conclusion shouldn’t merely be that MSNBC is a leftist network — that much is already obvious.

The conclusion, he maintained, should be that all networks, even the leftist ones, ought to do a better job …

Vivek Saxena

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