MSNBC is so focused on building false narratives they should hand out hard hats to their on-air staff. This time it was the gang of unknowns on Melissa Harris-Perry‘s Sunday show depicting Vice President Joe Biden as a statesmen and GOP veep hopeful Paul Ryan as a liar.
Perry’s self-described “nerdland” included “The Cycle” co-host Steve Kornacki, Feministing editor Chloe Angyal, MSNBC contributor Robert Traynham, a former communications director for Rick Santorum, and Sayu Bhojwani, founding director of the New American Leaders Project. (That’s a line-up so obscure, MSNBC could actually have body doubles filling in and no one would know or care.)
After Perry set up the segment in boxing match terms between the two candidates, she turned it over to her team. Kornacki wasted no time saying “Joe Biden gets a bad rap as a politician, as a communicator and as a debater.” He went on to complain about how the “caricature as everyone’s crazy uncle” has taken hold.
Rather than admit Biden is a gaffemaster, Kornacki called him “a really skilled communicator.” In Biden speak, that’s “a big f***ing deal.” Remember, this is Biden who in 2008 called Obama ''clean'' and ''articulate,'' and even The New York Times’s Frank Rich said that was reminiscent of “Guess Who's Coming to Dinner.”
This is Biden whom the Washington Post described in October 2008 as “known to much of the public as a gabby, gaffe-prone, backslapping Irish boy from Scranton, Pa.” This is the vice president, whom the Post in 2008 compared to Italy’s Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi “whose propensity for gaffes rivals that of Vice President-elect Joe Biden.”
And this is Biden who makes so many gaffes that he joked that he had “never had a gaffe” when Jake Tapper interviewed him on July 18, 2010.
Kornacki wasn’t just constructing a fantasy, it was a bridge too far. He then went on to build a version of history that’s not exactly accurate. Kornacki said Biden was named to Obama’s ticket because of his success at the debates.
However, Biden was chosen after Obama was roundly criticized for having insufficient foreign policy experience. Biden’s background on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was seen as key to balance out Obama’s lack of any substantive international experience.
On Aug. 24, 2008, when Biden was chosen as VP, the Post’s Anne E. Kornblut focused on his international experience. “Biden, 65, a sharp-witted and energetic foreign policy expert who has held two of the most critical Senate chairmanships, bounded out onto the stage just after 2 p.m. Central time,” she wrote.
Post columnist Richard Cohen did the same the next day, explaining that Obama “reached into the very heart of the Washington establishment -- especially its foreign policy wing” to choose Biden. It had little to do with his debate strengths and lot to do with Obama’s weaknesses.
The MSNBC conversation then went from Biden to Ryan and grew more ridiculous. Korncki was followed by Traynham, who had the only good words to say about Ryan. “He’s very specific and he’s very smart,” he admitted before being outnumbered by his fellow guests.
This time instead of building up, they were tearing down. Feministing’s Angyal, went on what is now a common liberal attack against the GOP, accusing Ryan of lying. “Ryan’s reputation as a smart, substantive guy is collapsing, in part because of the amount of fact-checking that had to be done after his nomination acceptance speech,” she claimed. She predicted there would be “ruthless fact-checking” of Ryan, not Biden, of course. Bhojwani agreed with Angyal, saying “there is going to be this desire for fact-checking.”
Traynham pointed out that as a society “we can’t even agree on what the facts are.” That too was blamed on the right as Perry criticized anyone who had questioned the latest jobs numbers.
This is the same theme liberals like New York Times’ economist Paul Krugman have been claiming about Romney as well. Obama’s errors are “minor,” Romney’s extreme. Krugman told ABC's “This Week” “the press just doesn't know how to handle flat out untruths” from Romney.