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Friday, June 28, 2024


GUEST BLOG / By Jon Allsop, The Columbia Review of Journalism online newsletter. 

 “…President Biden is unlikely to ever be compared to Picasso or a Ferrari. His voice, even at its best, is not an uninsurable jewel. But last night, it did seem to inspire a kind of psychosomatic nasal drip—if only through the ranks of panicked liberal pundits and journalists’ Democratic sources—and shook, if not a national economy, then at least a national political race. 

NBC reported, citing “two sources familiar with the situation,” that “President Biden has a cold.” 

 “Irresistible (if unconvincing) homages to Gay Talese aside, the state of Biden’s voice (raspy, and at times so quiet as to be barely audible) and the things he said with it (muddled, and at times barely comprehensible) were the top media takeaway from his debate last night with Donald Trump—the first of two this presidential cycle, hosted by CNN. (Though at this point, the chances of the second ever happening are surely diminished.) 

 “Some journalists wondered aloud why Biden’s campaign hadn’t leaked his cold beforehand as an expectation-management measure, though others weren’t buying it as an explanation for his verbal shortcomings. (The Atlantic’s Mark Leibovich dismissed news of the cold in one word: “Whatever.”) 

“Either way, The Age Question was suddenly looming again. At least one outlet that was criticized for questioning Biden’s faculties in the past took a victory lap. And various pooh-bahs of the media establishment declared that Biden should drop out of the race for the good of the country and his party. “President Biden,” Nicholas Kristof concluded in the New York Times: “I’ve Seen Enough.”

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