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Top Papers Repeat, Not Report, on Biden’s Scolding of Trump on Vaccine Rollout

Posted on 30 December 2020

You don't have to wait to witness the arrival of stenography in reporting on the incoming president. Both The Washington Post and The New York Times helpfully circulated front-page stories overflowing with statements from Joe Biden attacking President Trump on Tuesday.  The Post front page proclaimed “Biden assails Trump’s efforts to fight pandemic: Pledges to use levers of government to boost supply, speed up shots.”  The story by Jenna Johnson, Amy Wang, and Chelsea Janes began: "President-elect Joe Biden on Tuesday cast President Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic as meager and insufficient, as he vowed to fully use the federal government’s powers once inaugurated to speed the production and dispersal of vaccines and protective equipment." Inside on A-6, the headline was “Biden plans ‘aggressive’ federal response to health crisis.”  After noting President Trump tweeted that delays can be blamed on the states, the Post trio returned to stenography about Biden’s “robust” strategy:  Trump’s tweet underscored the deep differences between his approach and the one promised by his successor. Trump has regularly put responsibility for acquiring protective supplies and arranging testing — and now distributing vaccines — on state governments stretched as they deal with the twin catastrophes of the pandemic and the economic collapse. At times that approach has set states at odds, vying for items as essential as masks for hospital workers. Biden has vowed a far more robust and unified federal response that would utilize the heft of the U.S. government to prevent state competition. The president-elect said he would find ways to speed up the production of vaccines and their distribution so that one million people can be vaccinated each day, which he said would be five to six times the current rate. The Post also touted Biden’s predictions of a doubling death toll:  Biden’s expectations of a mounting death toll repeated warnings he made before the election, when Republicans were mocking Democrats for exaggerating the reach of the pandemic. In September, when the nation mourned the loss of 200,000 people to the virus, Biden predicted that the death toll could hit 400,000 people by the time Trump left office. “Critics said I was being too alarmist and negative. . . . And the reality is, it looks like we are going to hit that grim milestone,” Biden said, noting that the death count already has exceeded 330,000. There were eight paragraphs with Biden quotes, and two from Kamala Harris, who the Post noted was vaccinated by a "daughter of immigrants from Guyana." The story ended with a quote from Biden vowing "brighter days are coming."  On top of that, a second front-page Post story chided the states for prioritizing elderly residents over front-line workers. Isaac Stanley-Becker warned "Republican-controlled states are breaking openly with the expert recommendations at a time when advisers to President-elect Joe Biden are calling for greater federal coordination."  The New York Times front page read "Biden Rebukes Trump on Pace Of Inoculation." The story by Thomas Kaplan and Rebecca Robbins jumped to page A-16, where the text box added "Tells Americans we must 'steel our spines' in the coming days." The Times story was blander, but also featured eight paragraphs with Biden quotes, and another quoting Kamala Harris. It also ended with Biden promising "brighter days are coming." At least it admitted Trump's Operation Warp Speed "helped vaccines become available much faster than many experts had predicted."