Accuracy in Media

For the past several months, the mainstream media’s main storyline about the Democratic Party’s 2020 primaries was that former vice president Joe Biden was the most electable candidate in 2020’s general election.

The media reached a general consensus last fall, but ever since Biden’s fourth-place showing in the Iowa caucuses, it quickly pivoted to questioning Biden’s viability as the most electable candidate.

The New York Times headlined its article and noted the panic within Biden’s campaign, “Wobbly after Iowa, Biden confronts a Perilous Moment.” BuzzFeed News joined the chorus with a headline that said, “Joe Biden Argued He’s the One Who Can Win. What Happens After He Blew It in Iowa?”

Biden admitted that the worse-than-expected primary result was a “gut punch” and the media reported he took some time off from campaigning in New Hampshire to strategize how to win the next primaries in New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina.

Compare those headlines from the past week to headlines prior to the Iowa caucuses, such as CNN’s electability analysis last fall which compared Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Biden. That specific analysis wondered about “the electability difference between Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden,” but it did not mention South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg and it barely mentioned Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

Also, before the Iowa caucuses, McClatchy wrote, “Biden hasn’t broken through in Iowa. Can an electability pitch put him over the top?” The Boston Globe added, “Biden makes electability pitch in New Hampshire.”

The mainstream media narrowed down the Democratic Party primary field to the likes of Biden, Warren, and Sanders, but did not recognize the potential impact of a relative political newcomer like Buttigieg.

For months, the media portrayed that Biden was the inevitable nominee due to his electability claims, but after the Iowa caucuses, the media quickly abandoned that narrative from the Biden campaign. Primaries and elections are unpredictable, but it was dishonest journalism for the media to favor Biden for months and also neglect to properly vet and research other candidates in the field like Buttigieg.

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