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NY Times crushes Biden with avalanche of criticism following Hur report: 'A dark moment' for his presidency

Following the release of Special Counsel Robert Hur's damning report, The New York Times has published a series of scathing pieces scrutinizing President Biden's age.

The New York Times ratcheted up its scrutiny of President Biden following last week's release of Special Counsel Robert Hur's stunning report on the president's handling of classified information.

Hur did not bring charges against Biden, in part because he thought a jury would find him to be a "sympathetic, well-meaning elderly man with a poor memory," despite acknowledging that the documents were "willfully" obtained by Biden both as vice president and as a senator.

On Thursday, Times correspondent Michael Shear called Hur's findings and Biden's contentious press conference in response a "political disaster" for Biden. 

"The president’s remarkable appearance before reporters underscored the political damage that Mr. Hur’s report could do despite the lack of criminal charges," Shear reported. "The report’s discussion of the president’s memory and age was repeated throughout the 345-page document, and was quickly seized on by Republicans, including Mr. Biden’s likely opponent in the 2024 election, former President Donald J. Trump."

The next day, the Times editorial board penned a scathing piece titled "The Challenges of an Aging President" which pointed out how Biden would finish a second term at 86 years old compared to Ronald Reagan, who was 77 at the end of his presidency, and noted that a fall poll from the paper showed more than 70% of voters in battleground states believe he's "just too old to be an effective president." 


The piece took aim at his press conference, saying it was supposed to assure the country that Biden still had his mental faculties but it "didn't work."

"Mr. Biden’s performance at his news conference on Thursday night was intended to assure the public that his memory is fine and argue that Mr. Hur was out of line; instead, the president raised more questions about his cognitive sharpness and temperament, as he delivered emotional and snappish retorts in a moment when people were looking for steady, even and capable responses to fair questions about his fitness," the editorial board wrote, later adding that his age and low profile "has eroded the public’s confidence. He looks as if he is hiding, or worse, being hidden."

The board later continued, "This is a dark moment for Mr. Biden’s presidency, when many voters are relying on him to provide the country with a compelling alternative to the unique danger of Mr. Trump… He needs to do more to show the public that he is fully capable of holding office until age 86."

DePauw University communications professor Jeffrey McCall said the Times' dramatic turn against Biden has been "surprising" but suggested the paper couldn't just overlook Hur's report without tarnishing its credibility. 

"To ignore the significance of the Hur report or to soft peddle it would have come off to fair-minded news consumers as a blatant coverup for Biden, not to mention intellectually dishonest," McCall told Fox News Digital.


Times columnist Maureen Dowd made waves last year with a scathing column calling out Biden for neglecting his grandchild fathered by his son Hunter. That single-handedly opened the floodgates for the media to cover the family controversy. Just days later, Biden acknowledged the child's existence. 

On Saturday, Dowd offered another brutal column, urging the president to "ditch the stealth about health."

"Jill Biden and his other advisers come up with ways to obscure signs of senescence — from shorter news conferences to almost zero print interviews to TV interviews mainly with fawning MSNBC anchors," Dowd said. "Biden is running against a bad man, but that’s not enough. He has to acknowledge to himself that his moments of faltering — which will increase over the next five years — are a big weakness. He and his aides have to figure out how to handle that. Donald Trump, 77, makes his own verbal slips and shows signs of aging, but he conveys more energy."

Dowd knocked Biden's "petulance" displayed at the press conference, saying he "should have taken a breath" but instead came across as a "crotchety grandpa" who "sounded disturbingly like Donald Trump" when he said he must "finish the job I started," comparing that to Trump's "I alone can fix it."

"[Hur's] report was a fire alarm blaring in the capital because, fair or not, it crystallized the White House’s problem. Biden refused to take the one-term win, bow out and make room for new blood. So now he has to go to war with Trump," Dowd wrote. "But, in a world on fire, with Republicans in Congress spiraling into farce, the Biden crew clearly has no plan for how to deal with the president’s age except to shield him and hide him and browbeat reporters who point out that his mental state — like the delusional Trump’s — is a genuine issue."

She added, "Biden is not just in a bubble — he’s in bubble wrap. Cosseting and closeting Uncle Joe all the way to the end — eschewing town halls and the Super Bowl interview — are just not going to work. Going on defense, when Trump is on offense, is not going to work. Counting on Trump’s vileness to secure the win, as Hillary did, is not going to work."


Also published Saturday by the Times was the blaring headline "The Question Is Not if Biden Should Step Aside. It’s How."

"The impression the president gives in public is not senility so much as extreme frailty, like a lightbulb that still burns so long as you keep it on a dimmer. But to strain the simile a bit, the entire issue in a re-election campaign is not whether your filaments shed light; it’s whether voters should take this one opportunity to change out the bulb," conservative columnist Ross Douthat wrote. "Every flicker is evidence that a change is necessary, and if you force Biden into a normal campaign-season role, frequent flickering (if not a burning out) is what you’re going to get."

Douthat suggested that best path forward for Biden is to maintain his candidacy and gather all the delegates only to announce at the DNC convention he is withdrawing from the race, allowing the delegates to back a new candidate instead of passing the baton to his even less popular running mate Vice President Kamala Harris. 

The Times' resident NeverTrump conservative columnist David French insisted on Sunday that Biden "has a solid case for re-election" and is "absolutely preferable to Trump" but that he himself should be making the case to voters he isn't in decline. And if leaving it up to Biden to do that "fills you with alarm… then it’s time to ponder a different course of action," suggesting he should step aside.

"Yes, there are good reasons to think that his support might be at a low ebb, and that continued good economic news, combined with continued Republican dysfunction, could be enough to lift him past Trump. But it should be deeply concerning that Biden’s single greatest weakness is the one that he cannot alter: his age," French said.


Left-wing Times columnist Paul Krugman was filled with absolute dread on Monday, penning a piece with the headline "Why I Am Now Deeply Worried for America." It wasn't necessarily because of Biden's age but rather the amount of hyperbolic attention his age is receiving, comparing it to Hillary Clinton's email scandal, a factor in her 2016 election defeat. 

"Watching the frenzy over President Biden’s age, I am, for the first time, profoundly concerned about the nation’s future. It now seems entirely possible that within the next year, American democracy could be irretrievably altered," Krugman wrote. "And the final blow won’t be the rise of political extremism… No, what may turn this menace into catastrophe is the way the hand-wringing over Biden’s age has overshadowed the real stakes in the 2024 election."

"Until just the other day I was feeling somewhat optimistic. But now I’m deeply troubled about our nation’s future," Krugman added. 

Times columnist Michelle Goldberg wrote Biden's age is a "campaign problem" and not a governing one, but nonethless is an "impossible dilemma for the Democratic Party."

"People think he’s too old because of how he looks and sounds. Pretending it’s not a problem isn’t going to make voters worry about it less; it’s just going to make them feel they’re being lied to," Goldberg told readers.

Goldberg insisted the Biden campaign should "be candid about the challenges of aging" and that the president should be doing "a lot more interviews and events" despite the risk of gaffes, so that Americans can "see the version of Biden visibile to those who work with him."

And if he refuses to change his strategy, Goldberg said Biden should "step aside" ahead of the DNC convention. 

"Biden’s greatest contribution to this country was saving us from another Trump term. If his unwillingness to face his own limitations now clears the way for Trump’s restoration, it will be not just a mistake but a tragedy," Goldberg warned. 

Cornell Law School professor and media critic William A. Jacobson believes Biden's age is being covered by the Times as more of a "communications strategy" issue than as a substantive problem for the president.

"'If only he would handle it better' is the theme, while contrasting it against the need to defeat Trump," Jacobson told Fox News Digital. "So Biden is not being subjected to renewed skepticism that he is not up to the job, he is being lectured on how to campaign better."


The Times did attempt to balance the scolding and panic offered by its staff by publishing pieces defending Biden. 

A guest essay from neuroscientist Dr. Charan Ranganath assured readers that "everyone forgets" and it's "normal to be more forgetful as you get older," downplaying Hur's findings as Biden having "a problem with finding the right information from memory than actual forgetting."

"Calling up the date that an event occurred, like the last year of Mr. Biden’s vice presidency or the year of his son’s death, is a complex measure of memory. Remembering that an event took place is different than being able to put a date on when it happened, the latter of which is more challenging with increased age," Ranganath said Monday. "The president very likely has many memories of both periods of his life, even though he could not immediately pull up the date in the stressful (and more immediately pressing) context of the Oct. 7 attack on Israel."

He later argued, "Public perception of a person’s cognitive state is often determined by superficial factors, such as physical presence, confidence, and verbal fluency, but these aren’t necessarily relevant to one’s capacity to make consequential decisions about the fate of this country. Memory is surely relevant, but other characteristics, such as knowledge of the relevant facts and emotion regulation — both of which are relatively preserved and might even improve with age — are likely to be of equal or greater importance."

Times columnist Jamelle Bouie went on the offensive on Tuesday, saying Trump was the one who's "losing it" based on his recent comments, adding that the media's attention towards Biden has been "obsessive" by comparison.

McCall predicted the Times will not maintain this kind of scrutiny of Biden if he ultimately stays in the race through November. 

"There are too many ‘true believers’ at the Times to think there is any sort of ideological turnaround happening," McCall told Fox News Digital. "This sort of short-term criticism of Biden is not likely to be significant or long-lasting unless the president has another obvious public setback and national pressure builds to replace him altogether as the party nominee."

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