Once upon a time, Barack Obama wore a tan suit and it was treated a multi-day news item. Then along came Trump and his reign of corruption and lies, flooding the media with so much hate and deceit that they were functionally unable to treat even major scandals (I made a working list here) as news events; and when news did happen - like impeachment or the pandemic - the president would use his social media and right-wing media to generate noise that made good coverage seemingly impossible.
Tomorrow we will have a new president and the D.C. media is already back on its "Tan Suit" bullshit. Take, for example, this story on Joe Biden's peloton. It's framed around whether it's a security risk (it's certainly not as much as anything that happened in the Trump white house around data security every day), but includes this tender nugget:
Peloton does not exactly comport with Mr. Biden’s “regular guy from Scranton” political persona.
He's the president. He's going to live in the White House (with its chefs, bowling alley, and movie theater), can't just bike around the neighborhood, and has been a Senator since the 70s. He was a regular guy; he hasn't been one since before I was born. No one who voted for him will be surprised. This is not a story. And if it is a story, how about interviewing Joe Biden supporters in diners across America (or as I said in this viral twitter thread - the voters in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan who saved America) to see what they think. Despite Trump's gold toilet, we were treated to endless profiles of Trump voters to see how they felt about their man of the people. Today, the New York Times ... also did a big podcast on Trump voters. Enough with how Trump voters feel. Enough with Tan Suit stories.
I am begging the D.C. media during the Biden presidency to spend less time on personalities and replace them with this: inform readers how federal policy affects their lives. Federal policy has enormous impact on how we live, the workings are often mysterious, the causes and effects invisible. Tell that story. Show how decisions made in government influence the money in your pocket, your access to medicine, education, food, housing, and more.
It's not as sexy as mocking Joe Biden's bike choice, but it is what journalism is for.
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