CNN host Brian Stelter claimed on Sunday that the fact that presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden was seen over the weekend riding his bicycle somehow shows that Biden has the cognitive abilities needed to be president.
Stelter played numerous clips from top conservative talk radio hosts — including Daily Wire Editor Emeritus Ben Shapiro, Michael Savage, Mark Levin, and Rush Limbaugh — and portrayed the clips as being completely removed from reality as each of the radio hosts brought up Biden’s fitness for office.
“Fox’s narrative and talk radio’s narrative for months has been that Joe Biden is falling apart. You just heard Ben Shapiro say it, falling apart,” Stelter concludes the segment. “And there he is riding a bike, out for a bike ride. And Fox, of all networks, is the one that showed it happen.”
Biden’s wife went on Fox News this last week to defend her husband’s cognitive abilities, which came a day before Biden claimed that he had never been tested for cognitive decline — despite claiming in the past that he had indeed been tested and was constantly tested for cognitive decline.
If you're not listening to right-wing talk radio, you're missing just how extreme the Biden bashing has become. It's offensive and other-worldly. We showed examples on @ReliableSources this morning pic.twitter.com/GV302WkZAS
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) August 9, 2020
Shapiro responded to Stelter’s segment by writing on Twitter, “I’m sorry, but ‘Biden rode a bike!’ is not a good comeback to ‘Biden is falling apart.’ My son also rides a bike. He is four, and not qualified to be president.”
Shapiro later added a GIF of Pee Wee Herman riding a bike, writing, “Look, look, he’s fine, he’s riding a bike!”
Look, look, he's fine, he's riding a bike! pic.twitter.com/ZRJWoY0s3O
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) August 10, 2020
CNN’s BRIAN STELTER: Let’s go on a trip together to a totally alternative universe. You never hear what’s happening there unless you tune into right-wing talk radio, but you need to know what they are saying because the most popular, most powerful talkers in the country have trained their sights on Joe Biden. What you are about to hear them say is mind-boggling. Look, whether you like Biden or not, this stuff is offensive and other-worldly.
So, let me set the stage for this before I play the clips. Keep in mind that news and talk radio is still really popular, even in the Internet age. Guys like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity can influences tens of millions of listeners. And as this HuffPost headline pointed out earlier this year, talk radio stars were shopping dangerous claims about the coronavirus. They were downplaying its severity.
But now-a-days, if you listen to those shows, you hardly hear about COVID at all. They have shifted to big-time Biden-bashing instead. You know what this is? This is negative partisanship in action. So, what’s negative partisanship? Well, these researchers from Emory University define it as a pretty simple concept. They say in this article for Politico Magazine that over the past few decades, American politics has become like a bitter sports rivalry in which the parties hang together mainly out of sheer hatred of the other team, rather than a shared sense of purpose. The researchers showed that partisans, meaning strong supporters of a specific party, have grown to dislike the opposing party “more than they like their own party.”
So, when the president, for example, says that Biden is “against God,” that’s negative partisanship. It is so hateful. But I want to be clear, there’s a lot of negative partisanship that happens on the Left as well. Disdain and nastiness directed at the Right. This is happening in all directions, but it is especially extreme, especially vitriolic on the Right, directed at Joe Biden. And directed at other Democrats right now. We see it all the time on Fox News, a channel that often seems more anti-Democrat than pro-Trump. These shows are the pro-Trump media, but they have so much venom toward the Democrats, they use that to distract from Trump’s failures. Some of the commentary on the radio is even worse. That’s why this week our producing team listened to these right-wing radio shows, took them seriously, tried to get a sense of what they are saying about Biden because they’re barely talking about COVID anymore. They’re all focused on Biden. This stuff is outrageous, but it does impact the campaign.
RUSH LIMBAUGH: The contrast and knowledge of events and issues, mental acuity, the contrast between Trump and Biden is striking. It’s why they’re keeping Biden in the basement.
MARK LEVIN: I actually don’t believe Joe Biden is working out of his house. I believe he’s working out of a nursing home or an assisted living home, because that’s what he needs.
BEN SHAPIRO: The big problem for Joe Biden is that he is falling apart. He’s just falling apart.
MICHAEL SAVAGE: He’s not really running for the office. It’s the communist that he picks as his number two who will be running America within three months after he gets sent to the long, long rest he has worked for all of his life. You know, a blanket over his hips, around the clock suites, around the clock care. The man needs the care right now. I pity the man.
STELTER: Fox’s narrative and talk radio’s narrative for months has been that Joe Biden is falling apart. You just heard Ben Shapiro say it, falling apart. And there he is riding a bike, out for a bike ride. And Fox, of all networks, is the one that showed it happen. Look, we are going to see negative partisanship fuel the next three months. The last three months of this never-ending campaign. It is a key part of what is going on. Is a potion, an ugly potion that’s only, only getting worse.