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Tuesday, July 9, 2024

Ignorance or Willful Denial?


Are you going to believe your own eyes or what you are told?

I didn’t realize it was so bad.”

But you knew. Come on.

It’s OK. Some say many of us really prefer illusion to the truth. The truth can hurt, and even when we hear the truth, our defenses seemingly kick in to keep the illusion alive — and the pain away.

Only don’t tell us that you didn’t know. It insults our intelligence. After all, nearly a year ago, in August 2023, the Associated Press published a poll that found that three-quarters of U.S. adults believed the 81-year-old Biden was too old to serve another four-year term as president effectively. After all, amidst all the gaffes and policy failures from the economy to the border to Afghanistan, he’s also given fewer press conferences than any president (in fact, he’s done just one press conference this year alone). He’s sat for only 25% as many media interviews as Barack Obama did during his presidency.

For comparison, President Franklin D. Roosevelt held twice as many press conferences in just one year as Biden has in his entire term thus far. Biden even skipped the (once) traditional Super Bowl pregame show interview that is viewed by tens of millions of people.

Just a few months ago, the Department of Justice Special Counsel Robert Hur determined that, yes, Biden had improperly kept classified documents after serving as vice president, but that it would be difficult to convict him because a jury would see him “as a sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory.”

For millions of Americans, what was surprising wasn’t so much Biden’s debate performance last month as how many voters and reporters alike are feigning surprise now.

“It is simply astounding for the entire country, including its most seasoned reporters, to be as shocked as everyone was by the ugly and painful reality of Biden’s debate performance,” said Jill Abramson, former executive editor of The New York Times.

Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat, said he was “really surprised by the performance at the debate.” Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a Rhode Island Democrat, told a reporter he was “horrified” by Biden’s performance.

“It’s worse than I believe most people imagined,” said “The View” co-host Alyssa Farah Griffin. But is it? It’s certainly worse, but most people knew it long ago — they just didn’t want to be accused of helping elect Donald Trump by talking about it.

And if remaining silent meant avoiding another four years of Trump, then the ends would certainly justify the means for them, right?

It’s not the first time recently that the media has failed the American people. Back in 2008, it wasn’t that the impending housing mortgage meltdown wasn’t plain to many journalists — it was — but the only ones who wrote about it didn’t work for the mainstream press.

The same mainstream press, during the Obama administration, barely reported on the increasing number of those filing for unemployment benefits, the surge in layoffs, or that many Americans couldn’t (and still can’t) afford their Obamacare premiums (and couldn’t keep their doctor even if they liked their doctor). We could go on and on.

For those of you reading now who were surprised by Biden’s cognitive decline during the debate last month, you’re experiencing what psychologists commonly refer to as “confirmation bias.” This is the tendency to search for or otherwise interpret information in a way that confirms what you already believe, regardless of the facts. Some may call it “rationalizing.” Others may call it “missing the forest for the trees.”

I call it irresponsible because there was a time in our country when journalists and elected officials subordinated their own partisan interests for the greater good of the public interests. You know, a time when there were investigative reporters that uncovered everything from public corruption in city hall to exonerating death row inmates.

So, whatever your excuse or explanation for being so surprised by Biden’s condition, do better next time, and please don’t try to convince the rest of us you didn’t already know — because it’s certainly not a great commentary on your own cognitive abilities either.

Louis R. Avallone is a Shreveport businessman, attorney and author of “Bright Spots, Big Country, What Makes America Great.” He is also a former aide to U.S. Representative Jim McCrery and editor of The Caddo Republican. His columns have appeared regularly in 318 Forum since 2007. Follow him on Facebook, on Twitter @louisravallone or by e-mail at louisavallone@mac.com, and on American Ground Radio at 101.7FM and 710 AM, weeknights from 6 - 7 p.m., and streaming live on keelnews.com.


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