CNN attacks Biden’s State of the Union address hours before he delivers it

CNN highlighting poor polling numbers for Biden as his "State of the Union challenge"

CNN news anchors spent much of the day leading up to President Joe Biden's upcoming State of the Union address preemptively attacking the president's record and policies.

They repeatedly highlighted negative polling of President Joe Biden’s record, which were contradicted by the facts surrounding his accomplishments, as the network previewed its coverage of Biden’s upcoming 2023 State of the Union address later this evening. Other hosts and guests pointed to criticisms of the president’s age or pushed baseless criticism of his handling of the suspected Chinese surveillance balloon that echoed the president’s conservative opponents.

News organizations reported that Biden’s speech will highlight his legislative accomplishments and efforts to further improve the economy after former President Donald Trump ran it into the ground, departing office with fewer Americans employed than when he began his term. And in what appears to be CNN’s latest effort to shift to the right under its new ownership, many of its programs in the hours leading up to Biden’s speech attempted to undermine his accomplishments on both of those fronts, overwhelmingly relying on opinion polling from The Washington Post and ABC News that doesn’t reflect the facts around those issues.

  • On Early Start, anchor Christine Romans said, “Recent polls show the Americans are pessimistic about the economy. The president also faces low approval ratings. … The challenge for this president is to strike an optimistic tone on the economy but not appear tone deaf to the people who just don’t say they’re feeling it.”
  • CNN This Morning anchor Kaitlan Collins said to Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA): “One thing the White House also wants him to talk about are their legislative accomplishments. And they certainly have had some. But a new Washington Post/ABC poll showed that a majority of Americans don't believe he’s achieved much since taking office. Why is that?”
  • On CNN Newsroom, anchor Jim Sciutto cited the same poll to ask White House senior adviser for public engagement Keisha Lance Bottoms: “More than 6 in 10 Americans say the president has not accomplished much during his administration, despite the passage of bills in the last Congress. I wonder, how does he plan to change minds tonight?”
  • Inside Politics anchor John King also cited the poll showing poor approval ratings on the economy and Biden’s accomplishments, then asked Republican pollster Kristen Soltis Anderson: “How do you convince people, please change your mind, but be polite about it, you can't tell people you're wrong.”
  • During a later edition of CNN Newsroom, anchor Abby Phillip cited poor economic polling for Biden before noting “unemployment is down, jobs are up,” and asking former Obama administration official Nayyera Haq: “Are you worried that Biden’s victory tone on those metrics will not address what you're seeing in those poll numbers?”
  • Later in the program, Phillip concluded her interview with Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg by saying: “You and other administration officials have said that this administration has delivered historic results. But the polling, as I'm sure you've seen, on the economy tells a different story.”
  • The next hour, CNN Newsroom anchor Victor Blackwell again cited negative poll numbers to ask Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), “What does he have to do tonight to potentially convince those” people.

The facts on these issues contradict the opinion polls CNN hosts kept turning to. The reality is that the Biden administration is seeing astonishing job creation numbers, with more than half a million jobs added last month alone, while inflation has been in decline for months. And Biden’s legislative accomplishments rival those of most other modern presidents, which is arguably made more impressive given the very narrow congressional majority he was dealing with in his first two years in office.

CNN personalities also attacked Biden’s upcoming address by referencing New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg’s latest column attacking the president’s age and urging him not to run for reelection “because he’s too old”; both Romans and King brought this up.

Lastly, Sciutto claimed that the “U.S. wasn’t more prepared in advance for this surveillance balloon and it crossing the United States” and asked if Biden would address it, continuing some of the right-wing hysteria from the previous week that mainstream news outlets echoed. In fact, a senior defense official explained on February 4 that the U.S. “took immediate steps to protect against the balloon's collection of sensitive information” and that its “overflight of U.S. territory was of intelligence value to us.”