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One by One, Biden’s Closest Media Allies Defect After the Debate

USOne by One, Biden’s Closest Media Allies Defect After the Debate

Joe Scarborough pursed his lips and adjusted his tie. It was 6 a.m. on Friday, seven and a half hours after a diminished President Biden had gingerly stepped off the debate stage, and the host of “Morning Joe” on MSNBC was about to deliver a painful message to viewers of television’s most reliable redoubt of Biden support.

“I love Joe Biden,” Mr. Scarborough began as the cameras flipped on in his home studio in Maine. “I think his presidency has been an unqualified success.”


“He spent much of the night with his mouth agape and his eyes darting back and forth,” the anchor said. “He couldn’t fact-check anything Donald Trump said. He missed one layup after another after another.” Now, he concluded, “is the last chance for Democrats to decide whether this man we’ve known and loved for a very long time is up to the task of running for president of the United States.”

This was no mere act of punditry. Mr. Biden is a skeptic of the news media, but Mr. Scarborough is among a tiny group of commentators that actually has his ear. The president has spent time with the anchor and regularly watches “Morning Joe,” a show that has defended him against all manner of attacks.

No more. And Mr. Scarborough was not alone. His defection mirrored that of other longtime Biden media allies who, often in elegiac and pained tones, urged the president on Friday to drop out after his shaky performance in Thursday’s debate against former president Donald J. Trump.

Thomas L. Friedman, a columnist for The New York Times and a regular visitor to Mr. Biden’s White House, wrote that he had wept watching the president. “Joe Biden, a good man and a good president, has no business running for re-election,” he said. Evan Osnos, Mr. Biden’s biographer and one of the few journalists granted extensive access to the president, said on CNN that the president had appeared “diminished.”

And on CNN, the Democratic analyst Van Jones delivered a soliloquy brimming with emotion, full of poignancy, defiance and regret.

“I just want to speak from my heart,” Mr. Jones said minutes after the debate ended. “He’s a good man. He loves his country. He’s doing the best that he can. But he had a test to meet tonight to restore the confidence of the country and of the base, and he failed to do that.” Mr. Jones paused for a breath. “There is time for this party to figure out a different way forward.”

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