One of the strangest ticks of left-leaning punditry over the last year has been the contention that if Democrats in Congress didn’t join together to pass some sort of climate and social spending bill—the various multi-trillion-dollar reconciliation packages that have gone under the label Build Back Better—then President Joe Biden would have presided over a failed presidency. The idea was that without this legislative package, Biden would have no accomplishments, no legacy, and nothing to show for his years in office with congressional majorities. Without the spending bill, Biden and the Democratic Party were doomed.
On the contrary, the evidence suggests that Biden is already presiding over a failed presidency—and passing the spending bill could further cement that failure.
A new poll from Echelon Insights puts Biden’s predicament in rather stark relief. Over half of voters disapprove of the way Biden is handling the economy, foreign policy, and his job as president. Similarly, inflation is among the top concerns for voters right now, and 52 percent of registered voters believe Biden is making inflation worse. The question poll respondents were asked is pretty telling: “Do you think Joe Biden’s policies are making the inflation situation…Worse? Better? Or not making a difference at all?”
The keyword in that query is policies. Voters blame Biden’s policies for current economic turmoil.
They’re bad policies.
The constitutional protections guaranteed in the First Amendment apply to all citizens. Everybody has freedom to practice religion as they see fit and to speak freely. It might come as a surprise to the media establishment and even government legislators that the First Amendment protection for freedom of the press also applies to all Americans. Basically, every American is a member of the press.
When government bestows special status and privileges to “journalists” that aren’t provided for all citizens, the nation enters the dangerous realm of press exceptionalism. That’s the notion that journalists play such a unique role in American democracy that they need to be on pedestals. The problem is that journalists can’t be surrogates of rank and file Americans when they are being bought off and compromised by governmental entities privileging the reportorial class.
The journalism industry is being made part of the establishment by an increasing flow of government enticements. The Biden Administration’s Local Journalism Sustainability Act is part of the Build Back Better package. It is working its way through Congress now. The bill helps fund payroll expenses of news outlets, and generates revenue for those outlets by giving tax incentives to advertisers and subscribers. This ill-conceived legislation is super-charged press exceptionalism that will take the teeth out of the press’ historic watchdog role.
The news industry, indeed, does have financial challenges and media executives should well figure out how to keep their failing operations out of red ink. But that’s not the issue here. The issue is how a watchdog press can aggressively hold the government accountable when it is being soothed and distracted by government doggie treats. News coverage of Biden’s spending package is now necessarily compromised since news organizations stand to benefit from its passage. Journalists and politicians have historically kept an arms-length, and at times adversarial, relationship. Journalism executives should recognize government handouts for precisely what they are – attempts to maneuver and manipulate press sympathies to the government’s advantage.