By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Is President Biden senile? Peter Baker of The New York Times wants to know.

I suspect we’re going to see a lot of this as mainstream journalists, terrified of being accused of bias, seek to even up the score after four years of covering the worst president in our history. In his lead story on President Biden’s inauguration, Peter Baker of The New York Times writes:

At 78, Mr. Biden is the oldest president in American history — older on his first day in office than Ronald Reagan was on his last — and even allies quietly acknowledge that he is no longer at his prime, meaning he will be constantly watched by friends and foes alike for signs of decline.

What on earth is that supposed to mean? Not only is it unsourced, but we have no idea about the nature of those sources. Close aides? Members of Congress? Some guy who shook his hand at a fundraiser pre-COVID? More to the point, what does it mean that Biden is “no longer at his prime”? It could be anything from not having as much energy as he once did (almost certainly true) to, uh, wandering off at night.

Biden showed no signs of fading during the campaign, and in fact he only grew stronger once he realized he was going to have to fight for the nomination.

If there’s a reason to write a fully reported story on Biden’s mental acuity, then by all means do it. Otherwise, Baker and the Times shouldn’t let themselves be used as a conduit for fishing right-wing talking points out of the sewer and flinging them into the mainstream.

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  1. Jonathan Bresler

    Thanks Dan. I call b.s. Yesterday Chris Wallace of Fox was quoted as saying it was the best Inaugural speech he has ever heard.
    Not bad for a guy who purportedly could not string two sentences together. The Times is selling soap.

  2. “the Times shouldn’t let themselves be used as a conduit for fishing right-wing talking points out of the sewer and flinging them into the mainstream.”

    But when Democrats are in power, it seems to happen with some appalling regularity.

  3. Our culture doesn’t, in general, convincingly condemn gossip and snark, and in the news, I think they can sometimes be passed off as being in the know and edginess, traits that seem to be rewarded.

  4. Hi Dan, Thank you for this post. I agree with what you wrote. Horrible headline that could further break an already weary nation. Thank you, Lisa Connelll

    Sent from my iPhone


  5. Marcus J Breen

    Good call Dan.

  6. I have to say I’ve respected New York Times’ Peter Baker as a fair and measured journalist. But I am TOTALLY with Dan on this one. Just seems gratuitous, ridiculous and unfounded try at being “impartial.” Or whatever. Peter Baker, you can do better. Way better!

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