FLASHBACK: Biden media endorsements in 2020 touted his 'rich grasp' of foreign policy

Media top headlines August 16

In media news today, CNN gets accused of ‘fear porn’ for hyping story about Florida teachers who died from COVID without context, MSNBC’s Joy Reid compares America’s religious right to the Taliban, and Snopes catches its co-founder plagiarizing

President Joe Biden is taking fierce media criticism for a bungled U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan after major press endorsements of his candidacy in 2020 gushed over his foreign policy expertise and competent governing.

Biden has been blasted by even liberal media outlets for the scenes of chaos unfolding in the war-torn nation, as the Taliban seized power in Kabul and the Afghan government quickly collapsed amid the U.S. troop departure. The president has been accused of being caught flat-footed, looking incompetent, betraying allies, and emboldening American adversaries.

Yet part of Biden’s appeal to the press in 2020 was his supposed foreign policy chops after decades in the U.S. Senate and eight years as vice president, although Obama Secretary of Defense Robert Gates once remarked Biden had “been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.”

The New York Times wrote in its endorsement editorial that Biden would “stock his administration with competent, qualified, principled individuals” and said he had the “necessary chops” to restore the country’s global reputation.

“He has an unusually rich grasp of and experience in foreign policy, which, as traditionally understood, has not played a central role in the presidential race — though the pandemic, the climate crisis, a more assertive China and disinformation wars against the American public argue strongly that it should. The next president will face the task of repairing the enormous damage inflicted on America’s global reputation,” the Times wrote.

“Mr. Biden has the necessary chops, having spent much of his career focused on global concerns … He has the respect and trust of America’s allies and would not be played for a fool by its adversaries.”

The Times touted it was “little wonder that he has the backing of a who’s who of the foreign policy community and national security officials from both parties.”

The Philadelphia Inquirer praised his “gravitas” on foreign affairs, and upon Biden’s election, The Financial Times wrote, “the grown-ups are back in charge in Washington.”

It wasn’t just in endorsements. In 2019, before he announced his candidacy, Politico touted the “heavyweight foreign policy credentials” Biden could bring to the Democratic primary if he ran for president.

And it wasn’t just in 2020. Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin, one of the most sycophantic pro-Biden writers in the media, wrote in June that “many pundits and foreign policy officials feared Biden’s predecessor did lasting and permanent damage to U.S. influence, prestige and power around the world. So far, Biden is showing that fear to be overblown. Change our president, return to a “normal” foreign policy, embrace democracies and — lo and behold — America’s popularity soars. And it only took six months.”

That stood in marked contrast to her piece Monday, when Rubin was forced to admit Biden “had a poor hand but played it terribly.” 

While praising his desire to end the U.S. presence there, she wrote, “the decision to fast-forward to complete evacuation without adequate planning and a full appreciation of the results (based largely on a poor assessment of the Afghan military’s resilience) will be a blot on Biden’s record.”

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