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PBS NewsHour: Biden Special Counsel Was Performing for ‘MAGA Republicans’

pbs-newshour:-biden-special-counsel-was-performing-for-‘maga-republicans’
PBS NewsHour: Biden Special Counsel Was Performing for ‘MAGA Republicans’

On Friday, PBS NewsHour followed up its ridiculously supportive story Thursday evening on mentally declining President Joe Biden, who held a presser to lash out at a damning special counsel report documenting his false statements about how he treated classified documents, as well as documenting his problems remembering important events.

Thursday night’s program featured, as its expert witness defending Biden, a Yale Law professor who was also a longtime Democratic donor, including a donation to the 2020 Biden presidential campaign! PBS somehow left that out.

On Friday evening’s edition, the partisan call was coming from inside the house, as the show’s own White House correspondent Laura Barron-Lopez, perhaps the most ideologically unbalanced of PBS’s contingent of reporters, defended bitter old blame-spreader Biden’s disastrous press conference and condemned special counsel Robert Hur, while playing “whataboutism” with Trump regarding memory gaffes.

Anchor Amna Nawaz asked Barron-Lopez about Biden’s “very heated press conference” and she replied with Biden talking points, including a lie:

Laura Barron-Lopez: Sources inside the White House told me that the president felt compelled to respond, that he wanted to highlight that there were no charges, remind people of that, and point out the differences between the way he handled his classified documents and the way former President Donald Trump handled the classified documents, basically that he cooperated and immediately gave them back. Former President Trump didn’t. They also wanted to dispute what they called editorializing about his memory and age. And they thought that it would be a good time for him to take questions.

Barron-Lopez noted the president was “angered by” and “got emotional” about the report’s references to his late son Beau Biden. She even enlisted the special counsel into the “MAGA” corps:

Barron-Lopez: ….The White House basically universally felt, everyone in there, the White House official that I spoke to told me, that the special counsel — they felt as though the special counsel was performing for — quote — “MAGA Republicans,” and that it was time for the president to respond to that.

As conservative legal experts have pointed out, Hur had an obligation to explain why he wasn’t charging President Biden, even though Biden knew he had boxes of classified documents as early as 2017. Nothing “MAGA” about it. Hur’s reason, now famous: 

Barron-Lopez: Democrats were quick to point out that the mental fitness and misspeaking is not just a President Biden problem, that it is something that is also a problem for former President Donald Trump, who has frequently mixed up foreign leaders.

Conveniently, PBS then aired a clip to confirm those Democratic talking points, running a Trump gaffe when he confused the leader of Hungary with the leader of Turkey. They didn’t even air Biden’s own presser gaffe when he mixed up the presidents of Mexico and Egypt!

Barron-Lopez rubbed it in, noting “President Trump has also frequently mixed up Nikki Haley and Nancy Pelosi,” before pivoting back to the important takeaway: “Upset” feelings among Democrats.

Barron-Lopez: Overall, Amna, Democrats are really upset about this report. I spoke to Congresswoman Debbie Dingell from the swing state of Michigan, who said that she was so upset that she wanted to share with me this personal detail that the President Biden always checks in with her this week every year, because it’s the anniversary of her husband’s death. She now occupies his seat in Congress. And it’s also very close to Beau Biden’s birthday.

Nawaz finally admitted the political saliency of the age and memory issue “that has been plaguing the president, will likely continue to plague him through his reelection campaign.”

Barron-Lopez agreed, concluding with the closest thing to actual journalism (as opposed to reverse “gotcha-ism”) in the piece

Barron-Lopez: ….I also spoke to a Democratic state party chair who told me that every time that they knock on doors to talk to voters, voters ask them questions like, ‘Why didn’t Joe Biden retire and pass the torch to the younger generation?’

Saying the Democrats plan to take the issue of the president’s age “head on,” Barron-Lopez ended with the Democratic angle.

Barron Lopez: And when they take that head on, they tend to pivot to, with age comes experience, Amna.

A transcript is available. Click “cxpand” to read:

PBS NewsHour
2/9/24
7:02:52 p.m. (ET)

Amna Nawaz: On Thursday, special counsel Robert Hur’s report concluded that no criminal charges were warranted against President Biden for his handling of classified documents. However, the report made several references to President Biden’s age and called his memory into question. The president shot back last night.

Joe Biden , President of the United States: I’m well-meaning, and I’m an elderly man, and I know what the hell I’m doing. I have been president. I put this country back on its feet.

Amna Nawaz: White House correspondent Laura Barron-Lopez has been following all this and joins me now. Laura, the president spoke directly to the nation last night about this report in a very heated press conference. Why?

Laura Barron-Lopez: Sources inside the White House told me that the president felt compelled to respond, that he wanted to highlight that there were no charges, remind people of that, and point out the differences between the way he handled his classified documents and the way former President Donald Trump handled the classified documents, basically that he cooperated and immediately gave them back. Former President Trump didn’t. They also wanted to dispute what they called editorializing about his memory and age. And they thought that it would be a good time for him to take questions.

Amna Nawaz: And he’s not being criminally charged. So what did the president highlight from the report, and what’s the White House challenging in there?

Laura Barron-Lopez: Specifically, the president wanted to talk about the parts of the report where Robert Hur, the special counsel, said that he did not willfully retain classified documents, talking about classified Afghanistan documents, as well as others, and that they felt as though there was no real evidence to say that the president intentionally did this. He also got emotional about the parts of the report that had to do with his son Beau Biden, specifically that the report said that the president did not remember, even within several years, when his son Beau died. And so the White House was really angered by that. The president was angered by that. And you saw that in his remarks. The White House basically universally felt, everyone in there, the White House official that I spoke to told me, that the special counsel — they felt as though the special counsel was performing for — quote — “MAGA Republicans,” and that it was time for the president to respond to that.

Amna Nawaz: A very strong emotional response from the president on that. Well, the White House did continue to respond today, and they’re announcing a task force, right? What will that do?

Laura Barron-Lopez: So, this task force is going to review the presidential transition process and specifically how classified documents are handled during that transition. Transitions can get messy. They can get speedy. People can make mistakes. And so Biden is going to appoint a senior government official to oversee that new task force that will make recommendations.

Amna Nawaz: And what about from the wider Democratic Party? What’s been the response among them?

Laura Barron-Lopez: Democrats were quick to point out that the mental fitness and misspeaking is not just a President Biden problem, that it is something that is also a problem for former President Donald Trump , who has frequently mixed up foreign leaders.

Donald Trump , Former President of the United States (R) and Current U.S. Presidential Candidate: Viktor Orban, did anyone ever hear of him? He’s probably like one of the strongest leaders anywhere in the world. And he is the leader of — right? He’s the leader of Turkey, fronts on both Russia.

Laura Barron-Lopez: So Viktor Orban is not the leader of Turkey. He is the leader of Hungary. And President Trump has also frequently mixed up Nikki Haley and Nancy Pelosi.

Overall, Amna, Democrats are really upset about this report. I spoke to Congresswoman Debbie Dingell from the swing state of Michigan, who said that she was so upset that she wanted to share with me this personal detail that the President Biden always checks in with her this week every year, because it’s the anniversary of her husband’s death.

She now occupies his seat in Congress. And it’s also very close to Beau Biden’s birthday.

Amna Nawaz: This is an issue that has been plaguing the president, will likely continue to plague him through his reelection campaign. How is this impacting or resonating among voters?

Laura Barron-Lopez: So, Democrats admit that this is going to be something they have to confront head on.

I spoke to Jim Messina, who ran former President Barack Obama’s 2012 campaign, and he said that voters need to see more of Biden.

Jim Messina, Former Obama White House Deputy Chief of Staff: Americans are going to have questions about this. Age is an issue for both candidates.

And part of how you address it, as a former presidential campaign manager, my advice to them is always, transparency is important here. People need to see the president doing his job. Where Joe Biden is the best is talking to average Americans. And the more he can do that, the better off he is.

And I think some of the problem has been, it’s always these kind of scripted moments or these sort of White House moments. And voters want to see him out with them talking about these things. And I think the campaign’s got to do more of that.

Laura Barron-Lopez: But I also spoke to a Democratic state party chair who told me that, every time that they knock on doors to talk to voters, voters ask them questions like, why didn’t Joe Biden retire and pass the torch to the younger generation?

So, across the board, the Democrats that I spoke to said that the campaign, that they themselves need to take it on, take it head on, the president’s age. And when they take that head on, they tend to pivot to, with age comes experience, Amna.

Amna Nawaz: Laura Barron-Lopez, thank you, as always.

Laura Barron-Lopez: Thank you.

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