Joe Biden is not the media’s preferred Democratic candidate. He never has been. But he’s still a Democrat candidate, which means the press prefers him to Donald Trump.
If Super Tuesday were a primary of corporate newsrooms, Democrats’ nominee would be Beto O’Rourke. (Or Harry Potter.) Should Biden’s over-performance on Tuesday clear a plausible path to his nomination, the media will be in something of a bind. Thankfully, they’re relatively shameless.
Like Hillary Clinton, Biden is far from a perfect candidate. But a binary with any sentient being opposite Trump makes the choice obvious to the press. That, of course, would involve months of groping for excuses to depict Biden as the clear alternative, which would involve months of downplaying his many, glaring flaws.
Those flaws are not merely political disadvantages, as the “Hunter did nothing wrong” coverage would have you believe. They are substantive, involving establishment entrenchment, policy questions, and fitness for office. That’s not to say Trump doesn’t have flaws, only to note that Biden’s will be treated much differently. The coverage of his son’s relationship with Ukranian gas company Burisma, which was mostly treated as an unserious complaint, is a great example as to why.
In a hypothetical Trump versus Biden matchup, there would, of course, be some great reporting on the former vice president’s flaws, even from major corporate outlets. But there’s no question the press will stretch to defend Biden’s gaffes while also stretching to latch onto any potential slip-ups from Trump.
Against Trump, the media will cast Biden as Affable Uncle Joe. Oddly enough, if he makes it through the primary, Biden will almost certainly enjoy friendlier coverage.