The other day, a befuddled Joe Biden gave a speech in which he referred repeatedly to the psalmist David as “the palmist.” He apparently was confused about which letter in the Biblical reference is silent. It’s the “p,” not the “s,” which is silent.
Howie Carr transcribed the remarks verbatim:
“And if we do, and I’m sure we can, we can pris-claim the palmist, with the palmist who wrote these following words, ‘The Lord is my strength and shield….”
“Devout Catholic” Joe Biden doesn’t know the “P” in “Psalmist” is silent, not the “s”. pic.twitter.com/kp9MZi3NvQ
— Howie Carr (@HowieCarrShow) November 25, 2020
As of press time, the flub has received precisely no coverage from Big Media, only in conservative media. Forgetting which letter in “psalmist” is silent isn’t the biggest deal in the world. But it provides an excellent example of how corrupted our media have been for the last four years.
That’s because during the 2016 campaign, Donald Trump gave a speech at Liberty University where he referred to St. Paul’s second epistle to the Corinthians as “2 Corinthians.” It’s usually, but by no means always, said as “Second” Corinthians. Scottish Christians, such as Trump’s mother, say it the way he did. The media immediately pounced on the alleged flub, and kept pouncing until as recently as four days ago.
CNN said it was a “mistake that raised questions about his biblical knowledge as he courts evangelical voters.” NPR said he “mispronounced a book of the Bible.” Even People magazine made fun of him, saying he “flubbed a Bible reference.”
“Trump bungles Bible reference at Liberty University,” reported Politico’s Blake Hounshell.
Politico, incidentally, has not yet reported Biden’s flub, and is unlikely to.
The jokes went on for years, even though Trump never claimed to be particularly devout. Again, while few would argue Trump’s knowledge of Scripture is particularly noteworthy, and is sometimes downright embarrassing, 2 Corinthians remains an acceptable substitute for Second Corinthians.
The Chicago Tribune’s Eric Zorn wrote that Trump’s pronunciation “eroded his scriptural bona fides.” Michelle Goldberg of Slate said Trump “doesn’t even try to speak in the idiom of the Christian conservative movement… Speaking at Liberty University, he pronounced 2 Corinthians as ‘Two Corinthians,’ when any regular churchgoer would know that it’s ‘Second Corinthians.'”
In a 2017 Slate piece headlined “Bad Religion: How Trump is warping Christianity for his own gain,” Will Saletan cited it as one of examples: “To Trump, Christians are a curious sect (“such nice religious people,” they “have that great religious feel”), and the Bible is a foreign text (“2 Corinthians”).
Last year, in an Atlantic article dismissive of the president and his religious views, David Graham wrote, “Whether Trump’s God talk is sincere is not for me to say, though it’s hard to imagine it is. … He infamously referred to ‘2 Corinthians’ at Liberty University in January 2016.”
If a less-common alternate pronunciation is grounds for this much coverage, how does anything other than sycophancy explain the blackout on Biden’s addled mis-pronunciation of the author of the Book of Psalms?
The coverage is intended to harm political opponents and lift up political allies. It was just 2016 when President Barack Obama confused two distinct books of the Bible — the Gospel of John and the First Epistle of John. “John” and “1 John” are different books, placed at opposite ends of the New Testament. There are three epistles of John, so there are four Bible books total with “John” in their title. Five if you refer to Revelation as the Revelation to John or the Apocalypse of John.
Not only did reporters not pounce on him for his flub, they repeated the error. That included the New York Times’ Gardiner Harris and Mark Landler, NBC News’s John Schuppe, and The Hill’s Jordan Fabian also didn’t notice that Obama had said the wrong book of Bible.
The media have built an image of Biden as a spry, alert, devoutly religious, unbelievably kind, and exceedingly moderate politician. For the narrative not to be mocked, a lot of information must be suppressed, including Biblical flubs that would be non-stop headline fodder if uttered by the current president.