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ARE YOU OKAY NEW YORK TIMES? DO YOU NEED A POLICEMAN OR A BRAIN DOCTOR?
Guys. This is getting serious.
President Joe Biden traveled to an Amtrak maintenance warehouse in Bear, Delaware, Monday to talk up the jobs and economic growth resulting from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that he signed in 2021. In particular, he touted the release of $16 billion in BIL funding for rail projects in the Northeast Corridor spanning Boston to Washington DC. He noted the good union jobs being created by the infrastructure law, emphasizing as he always does that “The middle class built America, but unions built the middle class.”
It was kind of a big deal, he said, since the BIL included “the largest investment in passenger rail since Amtrak was created 50 years ago: $66 billion for world-class rail right here at home.” Biden noted that the fully electrified passenger trains running through the Northeast corridor aren’t just fast and convenient for commuters, but clean, since they “emit 83 percent less greenhouses gases, by the way, than driving your car, 72 percent less greenhouse gases than taking a plane.” Unfortunately, we won’t be getting intercity Shinkansen service just yet. High-speed train nerds will have to settle for Japanese travel channels on YouTube for some time to come.
And of course Biden called attention to the urgent need to repair parts of US infrastructure that previous administrations and Congress allowed to degrade. (Fun fact: BIL fully funds Amtrak’s long maintenance backlog, and that’ll improve both efficiency and safety.)
All pretty good stuff, and the New York Times covered the story (gift link) and Biden’s main points. But instead of a straight news story, the Paper of Record wondered why on earth Biden was talking about infrastructure at a time like this, when that one Times-Siena College poll shows he’ll absolutely lose to Donald Trump in a year, except for how nothing of the sort is certain. (Remember, the poll also showed Trump losing bigly if he’s convicted in one or more of his criminal cases, which seems just possible.)
So we got this weird lede on the infrastructure story, obsessing about the poll in both the first and second paragraphs:
President Biden, perhaps Amtrak’s most famous advocate, announced $16.4 billion in funding for rail projects on Monday, exhibiting a business-as-usual approach as polls show him trailing former President Donald J. Trump one year before Election Day.
Speaking at a maintenance warehouse where Amtrak trains are serviced in Bear, Del., Mr. Biden made no mention of the polling from The New York Times and Siena College polls.
Dang, Joe, where are your priorities? Why won’t you dance for the New York Times?
The story went on like that, alternating between brief mentions of the infrastructure event and extended grumping about Biden’s failure to acknowledge that this one poll says he’s doomed, doomed, portraying the Amtrak event as so much train-whistling past the graveyard.
Democratic strategists said Mr. Biden is making a point to stay on message, despite polling that showed voters in battleground states said they trusted Mr. Trump over Mr. Biden on the economy, foreign policy and immigration.
The White House has brushed off the polls, saying Mr. Biden still has a year to campaign and that polls have historically failed to predict the results of elections when taken a year ahead of time.
“It’s fine he’s doing an Amtrak event; it’s very on brand,” said Jennifer Palmieri, who served as White House communications director for President Barack Obama.
“What they have to do is stick with the drumbeat on economic gains,” Ms. Palmieri said. “You need to spend time telling people: ‘We have gotten a lot done. We will get more done.’”
A couple paragraphs later, the story switches back to the infrastructure event, although we suppose the Times might have preferred those sections have ominous music under them. There’s also a brief note that Biden “also slammed Republicans on Monday for seeking to cut funding for infrastructure and other administration priorities,” but no details on what he said, which was,
“Folks, meanwhile, our MAGA Republican friends in Congress are proposing to slash Amtrak’s budget.
“We’re trying to make train travel easier, faster, safer, more reliable. They’re trying to make it slower, harder, and less safe. You can’t make this stuff up.
“But that’s okay. We’re not going to let them stop the progress we’re making. And it’s — I promise you that.”
He’s right, of course. Even after trying to score points against Biden following the derailment and chemical pollution in East Palestine, Ohio, earlier this year, Republicans really do want to slash railroad safety funding, as well as most of the administration’s infrastructure and climate policies.
And as Evan has already noted today, on top of the weird angle on the infrastructure story Monday, the Times even managed to find bad news for Joe Biden in its story on yesterday’s very good election results, insisting in a subhed that “President Biden is unpopular, but the winning streak for his party and its policies has been extended through another election night,” and following that by proclaiming in the story’s lede that
The political potency of abortion rights proved more powerful than the drag of President Biden’s approval ratings in Tuesday’s off-year elections …
Hell, at this rate, if Biden is reelected, the Times story on his second inauguration will most likely begin, “Joe Biden was sworn in for a second term today, although his second inaugural address made no mention of recent polling showing he’d lose a rematch against Donald Trump if the 2024 election were held all over again.”
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