PBS Mounts ‘Gratuitous’ Defense of Biden From Hur’s Hurtful Special Counsel Report

News & Politics

The latest edition of Washington Week with The Atlantic waited until the 20th minute of the 26-minute episode (after an admittedly busy news week) to address concerns about President Joe Biden’s age and memory, after the release of Robert Hur’s alarming special report on Biden’s handling of classified documents from his time as vice-president. Hur’s report now-famously described the President as presenting as “a well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory,” angering Democrats and leading to Biden’s disastrous press conference on February 8.

Washington Week was just the latest PBS offering to if not outright deny Biden’s age and memory issues, mount objections to the tone of Hur’s report that conveniently line up with White House talking points.

“Obviously it’s a legitimate issue, like any other issue. But is this a redux of Hillary and her emails?” moderator Jeffrey Goldberg wondered.

Statistics-based journalist Nate Silver refuted that snarky liberal ”But her emails!” line of complaint, noting “This isn’t some scandal ginned up by the media; talk to regular people in your life and Biden’s age will come up organically all the time as well.”

The Economist‘s James Bennet found himself nodding along to the White House’s attack line against the report, calling “gratuitous”:

James Bennet: I mean, the White House was certainly making the argument after the special prosecutor–

Goldberg: Do they have a point?

Bennet: Yes, I think the — I’ve deferred to Josh on legal questions like this.

Goldberg: We all do.

Bennet: But I found some of the language in the report a little bit gratuitous. I mean, it seemed to me to go unnecessarily far and a little bit that they were trying to smuggle some of the details in. If you look at specific details, like saying, was I still ‘Vice President in 2013?’ you could get confused about, technically, did my vice presidency end in 2012 or 2013? You could read that a couple of different ways.

But it ended in 2017. Another PBS face, Washington Post columnist Jonathan Capehart, used the same “gratuitous” formulation to describe the special counsel’s legal obligation to set out why he was not filing charges against Biden.

Note that Bennet was never invited on to Washington Week to discuss his excoriation of the intolerant leftist turn of the mainstream media, but was free to defend Biden from the special counsel report.

Politco’s senior legal affairs reporter Josh Gerstein opined about the “sleight of hand” Hur used and suggest the comments were meant to harm the President politically:

Goldberg: Was this out of bounds?

Josh Gerstein: I would say there was a degree of sleight of hand here that James is kind of alluding to. You know, this report at the top says this is a confidential report for the attorney general. And in a literal sense, that was true, a technical sense, because it`s supposed to be a confidential report. The problem is, the attorney general had already publicly declared that he was going to make this public. So, when they were writing this and putting these phrases in there about a well-meaning elderly man who is very forgetful, the prosecutors knew full well that this was going to be publicly relayed–

“That was almost written for the tweet,” Goldberg added.

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