Nets Refuse to Criticize or Fact-Check Biden Lies, Walk Backs At Town Hall

The big three networks devoted reports this morning to President Biden’s town hall on CNN last night, but all three refused to actually fact-check the president, or criticize him for backtracking on promises or making embarrassing gaffes.

CBS and ABC each went out of their way to defend the president walking back his own administration’s promises regarding schools reopening:

ED O’KEEFE [CBS]: Remember, he pledged in December that a majority of schools would be opened by his first 100 days mark then said he’s focused on Kindergarten through eighth grade. He’s balancing his own politics with public safety and health. With the concerns of teachers and their unions. And with the concerns of distressed, overworked, tired parents like this correspondent who want to see their kids back in school. Lots of tricky balancing there he has to do.

CECILIA VEGA [ABC]: But as for when children will return to school, I want to get this right here, he said a majority of K through 8 schools could be open five days a week by the end of April. This is a bit of a walk-back from what his press secretary said. The president said that he is cleaning that up, George.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Yeah they thought they were going to get all of them.

NBC’s Kristen Welker gave a more straightforward analysis of the town hall, while refusing to criticize like her fellow WH correspondents. On screen it simply read, “President Biden’s new vaccine timeline.”

Later during an interview with Vice President Kamala Harris, NBC Today co-anchor Savannah Guthrie did grill the VP on the contradictory school reopening timeline but again didn’t call the original promise a lie, instead gently calling it a “shifting timeline”:

There has been a shifting timeline here. Back on December 8th, the president, then president elect, tweeted, we want to reopen the majority of schools in the first 100 days. He later said, we want to have most schools open. Last night, he said he’s talking about the majority of K through 8 schools. Last week, we heard an official saying, open means it could be one day a week open. The president said, no, that was a miscommunication. I mean, I guess, look, again, parents watching, what is the bottom line? What does it mean for schools to be reopened? How soon can they be reopened?

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Even more concerning, no reporter fact-checked the president’s obvious lie that we had “no vaccine” prior to his taking office, although other media fact-checkers tried to rationalize his falsehood.

Nor would they criticize some of his alarming answers, whether it was defending China’s human rights abuses and genocide as their “cultural norms,” or disparaging black and Hispanic Americans, saying that many of them don’t know how to use the internet. Can you imagine the outrage on the news the next morning if President Trump had said something like this?

Yet all three networks did find time to bring up Trump and impeachment in their Biden town hall reports.

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Read the relevant transcript portions below:

ABC’s Good Morning America

2/17/2021

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: We’re going to go to the White House now and President Biden’s push for COVID relief. He hit the road on his first official trip in office taking questions at a town hall in Wisconsin. Our Chief White House Correspondent Cecilia Vega has the latest. Good morning Cecilia.

CECILIA VEGA: Hi George Good morning to you. This was a chance for the president to talk to Americans in one of those hard hit states about trying to his COVID relief plan. But look, the headline here, was when he was asked point blank when every American who wants a vaccine will be able to get one, and he said we’re looking at nearly more than 600 million doses of these vaccines available by July. The end of July. That’s enough to vaccinate every American who wants one. He said as for when life will return to normal, the president said that there’s a strong chance we could reach herd immunity by Christmas and he also did warn that a year from now we’ll still need to likely be socially distant and wearing masks. The big question for parents this morning, schools on so many minds. The president did say, Good news for parents, not so much for kids, we will be likely looking at summer school this summer. But as for when children will return to school, I want to get this right here, he said a majority of K through 8 schools could be open five days a week by the end of April. This is a bit of a walk-back from what his press secretary said. The president said that he is cleaning that up, George.

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STEPHANOPOULOS: Yeah they thought they were going to get all of them.

….

CBS This Morning

2/17/2021

ANTHONY MASON: Making vaccines a priority. What else should we make of that?

ED O’KEEFE: Look, school reopening now becoming probably the hottest button issue in the pandemic. Republicans starting to seize on it, as well. Remember, he pledged in December that a majority of schools would be opened by his first 100 days mark then said he’s focused on Kindergarten through eighth grade. He’s balancing his own politics with public safety and health. With the concerns of teachers and their unions. And with the concerns of distressed, overworked, tired parents like this correspondent who want to see their kids back in school. Lots of tricky balancing there he has to do.

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NBC’s Today

2/17/2021

KRISTEN WELKER: Overnight, President Biden offering the clearest timeline yet for vaccinating Americans.

BIDEN: By the end of July, we’ll have over 600 million doses, enough to vaccinate every single American.

WELKER: Those comments at a CNN town hall in Milwaukee, coming just hours after Dr. Anthony Fauci revealed that, due to manufacturing delays, vaccines will not be available to the general public by April, as he initially told Savannah last week on “Today.”

ANTHONY FAUCI: If you look at the projection, I would imagine by the time we get to April, that will be what I would call, for better wording, open season. Namely, virtually everybody and anybody in any category could start to get vaccinated.

WELKER: Also under scrutiny, the president’s plan to reopen schools. Last week, his top official said the goal was to reopen most schools at least one day a week within the first 100 days.

BIDEN: It was a mistake in the communication. What I’m talking about is I said opening the majority of schools in K through 8th grade. They’re the easiest to open, the most needed to be open in terms of the impact on children and families having to stay home.

WELKER: Asked when life will return to normal, the president predicted.

BIDEN: A year from now, I think that there will be significantly fewer people having to be socially-distanced, having to wear masks, but we don’t know.

….

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