We got his back: Why Joe Biden is right to call out reporter for normalizing Russian plot to smear his family and disrupt the election

Photo credit: Joe Biden for President, Flickr. License.

It turns out that the same media personalities who have normalized Donald Trump for the past five years even as he has labeled the press the 'enemy of the people' are the most sensitive snowflakes when they get the softest of blowbacks from Democrats for trying to smear our candidates and their families.

In the past day, multiple reports from multiple news outlets have spoken to the high likelihood that a New York Post tabloid hitpiece on Joe Biden's family isn't just false, but planted by Russian intelligence, and that one of its key architects, Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, has been compromised and is being used by the Kremlin to spread disinformation about Joe Biden.

And yet, some in the national media are headed back to their 2016 playbook where they hound the Democratic nominee with false, sensationalized, Russian propaganda - then from Wikileaks, now from Trump and Giuliani - and ask them to respond to disinformation like it were legitimate reporting. On Friday, CBS News's Bo Erickson approached Vice President Biden and asked him to respond to the smear like it was a normal story. And when Joe Biden called him out on promoting a smear, Erickson ran to social media to complain that Biden was being mean to him.

As Erickson got raked over the coal in the comments on Twitter, his sympaticos in the national press, both inside and outside CBS News, rushed to his defense, claiming that Erickson was mere "doing his job" and asking Biden a question about a story in a national paper. Erickson, they asserted, was due more respect and that Biden was "acting like Trump" by responding forcefully.

It is emblematic of the double standard the national media practices that the same access journalists who have consistently promoted the Donald Trump reality-TV tabloid version of national news are suddenly now knocked over with a feather because Joe Biden had the cojones to call a smear a smear and call out a reporter for pretending the smear is a legitimate news story. Given that his own outlet, CBS News, reported on the Russian origins of this propaganda campaign, Erickson was fully aware that the "story" he was asking the Vice President to respond to was debunked disinformation, and that he was doing it not for news value but for the drama he hoped to generate by playing the victim on Twitter.

Former Ambassador Michael McFaul put the core response to Erickson's butthurt snowflake reaction succinctly.

This isn't Erickson's first rodeo, either. In 2016, like many others, Erickson weaponized Russian propaganda against Hillary Clinton, while rarely breathing a word about the real scandals Donald Trump was at the center of.

Erickson deserves the blowback he gets - both from Joe Biden and from people on social media. He deserves it because people like him seem to have learned nothing - or more to the point, I suspect, have wanted to learn nothing - from the way they failed the American people spectacularly in 2016. They haven't learned anything because they do not feel like they have any responsibility to bear or any accountability to face. The way the media informs the public about critical elections may be life and death for vulnerable communities everywhere, but it's just a game to the beltway media.

They haven't changed. What has changed since 2016, however, is that a spontaneous popular infrastructure has developed on social media - especially on Twitter - for people to push back and hold these so-called journalists accountable for what can only be described in Shakespearean English as ratfucking. The difference is that this time, a flood of us have Joe's back.

Many of Erickson's consiglieres say that Joe Biden should have to respond to questions about smears on his family even when it's known the smear is a function of an active Russian intelligence operation. The response to this preposterous proposition is unambiguous.

No, he should not be asked, or have to answer, such questions. Joe Biden should not have to respond to smears and libel generated by an active Russian intelligence plot to detail his campaign, and "reporters" should cease making themselves accomplices to a hostile foreign plot to disrupt American elections by giving such stories any pretense of legitimacy.

Not again. Not this time.


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