As Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden is gearing up to announce his pick for vice president, right-wing media have already started crafting dishonest attacks against the contenders. Unfortunately, as we’ve seen in the past, some other media outlets are carelessly running with right-wing media’s framing.
Recent reporting indicates that the announcement of Biden’s pick is likely to come next week -- with Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), former U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, and Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA) as the likely final three candidates. Not surprisingly, right-wing media have focused on crafting dishonest attacks against them in the last weeks, especially against Bass.
Right-wing media have attacked Bass and painted her as “very dangerous” and extreme based on time Bass spent in Cuba in the 1970s building houses and comments she had made seemingly praising former Cuban President Fidel Castro. As Bass has clarified, she has visited Cuba many times as part of her political career and has supported efforts to strengthen U.S. relations with the country. She has also walked back her earlier praise of Castro and called his regime and its legacy “very troubling.”
Unfortunately, other media outlets have already adopted the right-wing framing of Bass as a radical, Castro-supporting communist. In doing so, outlets are abandoning responsible reporting and misinforming their audiences about a relatively unknown member of Congress who is a top contender to potentially assume the second highest office in the land. In other words, they have taken the right-wing bait.
NBC News published a story framed around Bass declaring herself “not a communist.” Politico devoted an entire article titled “Karen Bass eulogized Communist Party USA leader” to reporting that a eulogy from Bass about a “friend and mentor” left out the fact that the friend was also “a top member of the Communist Party USA for decades.” The Washington Post published an opinion piece by columnist Henry Olsen with this headline:
Right-wing media’s playbook for the 2020 election is clearly to flood the zone with the idea that Biden and whomever he picks as his running mate will make a ticket that is too “extreme” for the electorate. When other outlets simply acquiesce to right-wing media’s strategy, it signals a belligerent unwillingness to learn from the mistakes they made during the 2016 election.