Biden just got back from a disastrous trip to Saudi Arabia, and all we’re really hearing from the media is crickets.
With a only few highlights of Biden’s flaws during his visit and a preoccupation with human rights issues instead of our hamstrung credibility, the corporate media are content with their coverage of a failed diplomacy attempt that signals only weakness from the United States.
On July 13, Biden visited Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (often referred to by his initials MBS) ostensibly to “strengthen a strategic partnership” to compete against China, increase stability in the Middle East, and fight Russian aggression, per an article Biden himself published in The Washington Post.
The real purpose of the visit was to relieve the gas price problem, caused in large part by Biden’s green policies, soaring inflation, and sanctions on Russia, which have converged to tank his approval rating. (He all but admitted this in his article.) The only tangible thing that seems to have arisen from the U.S.-Saudi meeting, however, is a transfusion of strength between the two countries’ reputations: Saudi Arabia was just recognized by the leader of the free world, and the United States just begged for oil from a state our president called a “pariah” on the campaign trail.
The mild criticism the corporate media directs at Biden is not enough. From the fist bump with MBS, whom the CIA reports sanctioned the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, to the lack of specific agreements binding Saudi Arabia to sell more oil, the trip was a president-sized flop, and the media are covering for him.
The fist bump was bad, but it remains the only aspect of the trip many outlets will cover, turning the poorly judged gesture into a red herring. They’re not talking about the oil problem, the opened airspace Biden said was a victory for Israeli-Saudi relations and the Saudi government overtly contradicted, or Biden’s dubious assertion that he challenged MBS on the killing of Khashoggi (testimony the Saudi minister of state denies).
CNN’s coverage of the trip stresses a “political and diplomatic tightrope” the president was forced to walk in Saudi Arabia and even gives a favorable nod to Biden’s not-so-subtle jab at U.S. gas stations for not charging prices equal to what they pay for oil. CNN also lauded Biden for taking a “calibrated approach” to increasing oil exportation from Saudi Arabia.
NBC published only three articles on Biden’s time in Saudi Arabia, all of which were prior to its conclusion. Two painted Biden’s visit as part of a grand, effective plan, and one criticized Biden for fist bumping MBS. NBC did not publish one article upon Biden’s return, nor did it highlight his failed attempt to secure more oil or the Saudi’s contradiction of his statement that the opening of Saudi airspace to Israeli planes was a step toward ties with Israel.
NPR covered only the human rights issue raised by Biden’s fist bump with MBS in its scant articles upon the conclusion of the Saudi trip.
While The New York Times and The Washington Post have critiqued Biden’s failure to achieve tangible results from his trip, the Times editorial board also said Biden was doing the “right thing” in his visit, and both outlets made sure to couch their criticism in mild terms. It’s a far cry from the rage such a disastrous visit would have raised from leftist media if former President Donald Trump had gone to the Middle East to beg for oil.
If Trump, who is scarcely recognized in the corporate media for his actually successful accords in the Middle East, had achieved the same outrageous failings as Biden, Trump would have been plastered on front pages for weeks after the trip. Yet mention of the Saudi debacle is almost absent on the homepages of our major media.