What's Going On With The Biden Media Swarm: An Explanation

Aaron Fritschner, a congressional staffer, wrote a very useful thread on Twitter yesterday that explains so much of what’s going on with the media swarm on Joe Biden:

“Something important, subtle, and largely un-discussed is shaping the way all of us perceive what’s happening now. Shifts in editorial standards and a series of biases in reporting and especially amplification are herding the news in one direction.

“There are reasons why pretty much everything you see now describes panic, chaos, and backbiting. Reporters are looking for those things, they are getting print and headlines, and the other stuff is getting twisted, downplayed or cut. This works many ways in practice–

“Take the case of the secret letter and the 25 mysterious Democrats. Last night this appeared part way down a wire flash from Reuters. The source was a lone “House Democratic aide” described neither as senior nor as leadership. They didn’t have the letter or know its provenance.

“So many reporters asked me for this letter (all kindly and most apologetically blaming their editor) that I had to turn my phone off to work (which I never do!). I still don’t know a thing about it and heard from many colleagues who don’t either. Is it real? I have no idea!

“Some places just wouldn’t have run stories they’re running now a month ago with this sourcing. That I suspect even now the thin Reuters sourcing made other outlets wary of picking it up because of editorial standards. But we get farther through the looking glass every day.

“This is happening over and over again, there were times today when I felt like I was seeing quotes get cut up like this to strip messages of doubt and disarray out of larger context every five minutes, and by reporters who normally would never do that. It’s a feeding frenzy.

“This is NOT to say everything is fine. Everything is not fine!
This is NOT to say reporters are all villains. They’re trying to do their jobs and they have bosses. This is NOT to say they’re making it all up. Much of what you read is accurate. It’s just hard to tell right now.”

“But the fact is most of the leading journalists in the United States are *competing* with each other right now to break the Next Big Story in the Dems Panic/Bad For Biden genre. Their editors are hounding them for juicy bits, and their standards are being weakened to get them.

One thing that really pisses me off is blind quotes (and even on record ones) trying to speak for other people. “Everyone says X” “we’re all feeling Y.” In aggregate they’re giving many people a sense of impending doom.

“These people do NOT speak for me or my boss. I do.

“What should you do with this? My advice: BE SKEPTICAL.

“Who said it? What’s the sourcing/attribution? Where do they work? How senior? Do they know or are they pretending to? Is the story shaped by an agenda? What was amplified? What downplayed?

“This is real, it’s happening!’

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