by James Billot
Friday, 12
March 2021
Audio
11:41

Did Joe Biden instruct the media on election night?

Two reporters say that US networks delayed calling the result at his request
by James Billot
President Joe Biden speaks to reporters. Credit: Getty

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.

Join the discussion


  • Really? You really believe this? It was one of the mildest parliamentary incursions ever seen.
    Statues and art works left intact, no graffiti, no weapons, no arson or unfurling of banners from the galleries, walking between the rope barriers.
    Compare this with what’s happening in Portland and Seattle, or what happens in Europe when politics gets heated.
    The Capitol was bizarrely under-policed for the numbers due to attend the rally, allowing opportunistic protesters to get through. Why, when you know there will be a large rally at a time of political tension, would you fail to ensure a key political building is properly protected?

  • so Sullivan magically became a Trump operative? Two networks – not one, two – paid him for footage from inside. That’s well beyond the margin of coincidence.
    For months, leftist groups rioted, looted, and murdered, but now the same left clutches its pearls over a clown show it wants to call an insurrection? Sure.

  • It’s chilling the level to which some people buy into their own disinformation narrative.
    Like the claim that the Capitol cop was beaten to death? Like the various members of Congress claiming fear for their lives when they were not even in the building? Like the claim of cops targeting black people when stats show 75% of civilians killed are NOT black?
    Yes, it is chilling but not necessarily in the way you’re thinking. Had Babbit been killed in an antifa or BLM riot, the left would be howling. Instead, they’re cheering that she was gunned down.

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