CNN anchor Brian Stelter seems entirely convinced that the media is at least partly to blame for President Joe Biden’s polling problems — and he even went so far as to suggest that Americans believe Biden is failing to deliver on his campaign promises because negative chyrons on Fox News told them so.
Stelter dug into what he called “the meta story” behind the Biden presidency during the opening monologue of his Sunday morning media show, “Reliable Sources” — and he argued that the media was driving most of what Americans believed about the Biden administration’s successes and failures.
“What is the meta story of President Biden’s first year? The meta story, meaning the all-encompassing narrative of Biden’s presidency? What’s the takeaway? What’s the story about all the stories? What’s the main impression you get from all the daily headlines and hate tweets? Is it America rebounding or is it America on the wrong track?” Stelter asked. And according to at least one recent NBC poll, more Americans believe the latter — 71% said they believe the United States is headed in the wrong direction.
Stelter said that the first step was acknowledging just how much power the American media had in helping to shape that “meta story.”
“Maybe that’s why so many liberals are so frustrated right now, worried about Biden’s poll numbers, irritated at the media’s framing and concerned that Biden isn’t doing enough to shape his own story,” Stelter continued, arguing that media outlets were effectively shouting down a president who wasn’t doing a lot to drown them out.
“If Biden’s strategy is quiet, his detractors are trying to be loud, making the meta story about a guy who failed to deliver, and citing supply chain woes to make those tales sound real,” Stelter added, saying that it no longer mattered if gas prices came down, store shelves were fully stocked, and packages were delivered on time — because the people would believe the stories rather than their own experiences.
Stelter then pivoted to blame Fox News directly, accusing some networks of favoring “feelings over facts” and saying, “This Fox banner sums up the network’s meta story about Biden. It says ‘quality of life is collapsing under Biden.’ Says who? Other banners refer to Biden’s economic train wreck and failed agenda, crises — always plural, multiple crises on his watch.”
Stelter noted that Biden himself had spoken publicly about how his solutions were working — shipping containers are moving, he said — but his statements barely registered, and, “Anyway, by the time that crisis recedes, Fox will be emphasizing a new emergency.”
Stelter later conceded that Fox News’ coverage was not the only complication facing President Biden — the fact that the media universe has changed around him, making it possible for anyone with a large enough social media following to change the narrative.
“[There’s] something bigger going on here, something bigger than Biden. The media universe has fundamentally changed, or actually, it’s better to say it is changing every day in ways that make America a different country to govern. A more difficult country to govern. It is increasingly a country with many alternative facts,” Stelter said. “Disproving viral tweets is different than debunking a TV ad. Combating meme makers is different than rebutting newspaper columnists. And the memes are pretty powerful sometimes.”
Stelter thinks memes and meme-makers need to be ‘combatted’ pic.twitter.com/NH0pbuals3
— The Post Millennial (@TPostMillennial) November 28, 2021
“My suburban grocery store has never had empty shelves like that, but the message here saying Biden is to blame for anything bad about the economy — it is clearly sticking to some degree. Even though economists believe GDP will surge this quarter, even though the American recovery is historically strong after the pandemic, the meta story is that we are in choppy waters,” he added.
“As Jonathan Chait wrote in this New York magazine cover story, nobody can ascertain why the public has turned so sour so fast. He said, ‘Biden is like patient wasting away from some unrecognizable — sorry, undiagnosable disease.’ Hmm. Maybe a year from now this current discourse will seem like yet another temporary media-created crisis,” Stelter concluded.