March 12, 2021 - 11:41am

The authors of an insider account of Joe Biden’s fortuitous path to the White House, ‘Lucky‘, have let slip a rather eye-popping detail.

Appearing on the 538 podcast, Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes revealed, almost nonchalantly, some details about the role the media played on the night of the election and its aftermath. When asked about how prepared, if at all, the Biden campaign was for Trump’s refusal to concede and the events that followed November 3rd, they responded (43:50):

Biden’s team was very very prepared for this — they went out to the networks before the election and said don’t call it early. It’s going to look like Trump’s ahead — the red mirage as it’s called — and then eventually more democratic votes will get counted late particularly in Pennsylvania and so they were able to hold off the networks for a while. As it turned out, they may have been a bad thing for them in the public perception because they might have been declared early if the networks weren’t primed to hold off for a while. [emphasis mine]
- Jonathan Allen & Amie Parnes, 538

See 43:50 for the key exchange

Media bias in America is nothing new — however much certain networks may try to claim otherwise, nearly every broadcast organisation in the country leans either Left or Right to varying degrees. But what does appear to be new is the extent of influence that campaign teams have on the mechanics of the news coverage itself. That the Biden team was able to “prime” the networks as to when to call an election is deeply disturbing. If this kind of thing were to occur in Russia, for instance, networks like CNN and MSNBC would no doubt be in uproar (not least because they spent four years propagating the Russiagate conspiracy); or, closer to home: imagine if it was Trump, not Biden, attempting to manipulate coverage in this way.

This level of double standard feels like a new juncture in the media’s evolution from dispassionate news-gatherers to political partisans. It is hard to think of a more important moment than calling a general election result — this decision should be made by editorial teams alone in the pursuit of the truth, not pre-agreed deals with one of the contestants in the race itself.

Stories like this are only going to fuel the sense of collusion between the Democratic Party and elites circles of the media — that there was no pushback whatsoever from the interviewers on this podcast shows how far down the road they have already come.