Nets Ignore Internal White House Concerns Biden in Mental, Physical Decline

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The liberal media used to dismiss concerns about President Biden’s fitness for office as just bad-faith attacks from people on the right. But with a sober article from New York Times chief White House correspondent Peter Baker Saturday night, it turns out that people inside the administration are also concerned and it’s affecting how the President does the job. But despite this admission, the broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, and NBC) have ignored the paper of record, while the cables (CNN and MSNBC) have each noted it once.

In his article titled “At 79, Biden Is Testing the Boundaries of Age and the Presidency,” Baker begins by noting Biden’s upcoming trip to the Middle East which “was initially tacked onto another journey last month to Europe, which would have made for an arduous 10-day overseas trek until it became clear to Mr. Biden’s team that such extended travel might be unnecessarily taxing for a 79-year-old president, or ‘crazy,’ as one official put it.”

And while he does share the quiet, anonymous warnings from those not “sanctioned by the White House” to speak on matters of the President’s health, Baker also leans on those allowed to give the talking points. “Everyone ages differently, of course, and some experts put Mr. Biden in a category of ‘super-agers’ who remain unusually fit as they advance in years,” he wrote.

Since the release of the article on Saturday, Baker has made 3 TV appearances (Alex Witt, Morning Joe, and Kate Tur Reports), all of which were on MSNBC and only 1 of them had questions about the article. That distinction goes to host Alex Witt on Sunday afternoon (lasting 3 minutes flat):

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So, Peter, you wrote that in today’s The New York Times, here’s the quote, “at 79, Biden is testing the boundaries of age and the presidency.” And you say that the original plan was “for an arduous ten-day overseas track until it became clear to Mr. Biden’s team that such extended travel might be unnecessary taxing for a 79-year-old president, were ‘crazy’ as one official put it.” Tell me what led to the schedule change.

Although her follow-up was about how frustrated the White House is that people don’t know how with-it Biden truly is. “Because in your article you talk about how they say he’s got tremendous leadership, he’s very sharp with the questions whatever they’re going back and forth, he leaves things. The guy works out every day, half the time with the trainer. That’s not getting out there? How frustrating is that for the White House staff?” she lamented.

And she concluded the topic by commending Biden’s endurance. “And you do point out that at 79, there aren’t a lot of people out there riding their bikes anyways the distances that he does,” she touted.

Despite the story being deemed worthy enough to get air time on MSNBC on Sunday, there wasn’t a peep about it on any NBC newscast that day not even Meet the Press. And neither ABC’s This Week nor CBS’s Face the Nation covered it either. And their flagship morning and evening newscasts have not dared to pick up the story on Sunday or Monday.

The next mention wouldn’t come until Monday afternoon with CNN Inside Politics host John King bringing it up to his mostly liberal panel and noting that his CNN colleague David Gergen, who has served in multiple presidential administrations, was quoted in it (lasting 1 minute, 17 seconds).

“In that article, David Gergen is quoted, ‘I feel it is inappropriate to seek that office after you’re or in your 80s.’ And David talks about turning 80 himself and he says he’s not as sharp as he used to be,” he read, going to CNN’s Nia-Malika Henderson for comment.

Her apparent defense of Biden included a rhetorical shrug and arguing “He won’t get any younger. I think there are people who have looked at him over these last years and seen he is not what he used to be, 10 years ago. No one is.” And she went on to suggest not being former President Trump was his key to re-election.

The transcripts are below, click “expand” to read:

MSNBC’s Alex Witt
July 10, 2022
12:11:43 p.m. Eastern

ALEX WITT: So, Peter, you wrote that in today’s The New York Times, here’s the quote, “at 79, Biden is testing the boundaries of age and the presidency.” And you say that the original plan was “for an arduous ten-day overseas track until it became clear to Mr. Biden’s team that such extended travel might be unnecessary taxing for a 79-year-old president, were ‘crazy’ as one official put it.”

Tell me what led to the schedule change.

PETER BAKER: Yeah, so they can tell you lots of different reasons why they decided to break the trip into two. There’s some political reasons, diplomatic reasons why you – why, you know, muddled the message from the NATO summit by then going to the Middle East. That’s certainly one, there’s certainly concern that he might be overseas for too long at a time when there are so many things happening at home like the reversal of Roe v. Wade.

But also, of course, there was this issue of are we overtaxing the President? Now, that might be true for younger presidents too, but it’s certainly absolutely true for 79-year-old president. The idea of keeping him out there after an already, you know, stressful meeting in Germany and Madrid, with a whole other trip in effect to the Middle East and Israel, Saudi Arabia, it seems untenable. So, they wrote that, off reschedule it for this coming week.

And it’s a sign of how they have to be careful. When you have the oldest president out there, energetic as he may be, and as you know, eager to hit the road as he might be, it’s incumbent upon the staff of any president to ensure they’re putting him out there at his, in a way that allows him to be at his best.

WITT: Yeah, but how frustrated are they? Because in your article you talk about how they say he’s got tremendous leadership, he’s very sharp with the questions whatever they’re going back and forth, he leaves things. The guy works out every day, half the time of the trainer. That’s not getting out there? How frustrating is that for the White House staff?

BAKER: Well, I think it is frustrating. I think that they recognize that the bigger problems for them politically is that even if the President is sharp mentally, even if he is driving these meetings as they say, that some of the physicality has been, you know, hard to overcome.

He tends to shuffle sometimes because he has, you know, mobility issues that the doctors have identified. He sometimes, his speeches tend to be a little listless, or he seems to momentarily get confused or have trouble summoning names. All of this is the kind of thing you can’t do much as the White House. There’s nothing you can do through a staff shakeup or communications strategy to change that.

And it gives the impression of being old. And the polls show that a lot of Americans think that he is too old. 64 percent in the most recent Harvard Harris poll they think he is showing his age at this point. As anyone at that age might.

WITT: Absolutely.

BAKER: It’s a frustrating thing for the White House because they do believe he’s getting a lot of stuff done that he doesn’t get credit for, and this is overshadowed that to some extent.

WITT: And you do point out that at 79, there aren’t a lot of people out there riding their bikes anyways the distances that he does. And that gets lost.

(…)

CNN’s Inside Politics
July 11, 2022
12:23:15 p.m. Eastern

(…)

JOHN KING: And so, you’re having a fight within the family, and then you have the question that Peter Baker of The New York Times wrote over the weekend: “At 79 Biden is testing the boundaries of age and the presidency.” In that article, David Gergen is quoted, “I feel it is inappropriate to seek that office after you’re or in your 80s.” And David talks about turning 80 himself and he says he’s not as sharp as he used to be.

This conversation is not helpful for the Democrats in a midterm election year; it’s not helpful for any president, anyway.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON: No, it’s not. And listen, Americans typically look at the office of the presidency as embodying strength, stamina, and in some ways, I think this factor, with this president— you can’t change it. Right? He won’t get any younger. I think there are people who have looked at him over these last years and seen he is not what he used to be, 10 years ago. No one is. And maybe he isn’t up for these times, that is a fact that, he is not going to be able to change.

Can he change stuff in terms of the legislative agenda? Sure. I will say this, though. A lot of Democrats who I talked to, rank and file, average voters who will essentially say, “yeah, maybe he’s a little old, maybe he hasn’t been as effective as possible, but at least he is not Trump.” Right? That was his mandate in getting in. And, that may very well be his mandate for getting re-elected.

(…)

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