The Corner

Politics & Policy

Networks Teaming Up to Air Biden Inauguration Infomercial

Then–Democratic vice-presidential nominee Kamala Harris and then–Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden greet supporters at an election rally in Wilmington, Del., November 7, 2020. (Andrew Harnik/Reuters)

Behold the hilarious enthusiasm among the nation’s biggest media outlets to hurl themselves at the feet of power and begin licking intently: Next Wednesday night, after the inauguration of Joe Biden, the three oldest television networks are planning to join forces to air the same heavily produced propaganda special “celebrating the inauguration,” as Variety puts it.

“Celebrating”? Not “covering”? Not “reporting on”? Not “observing with due detachment and without partisan cheerleading”?

Yep, celebrating. The film is a DNC production disguised as “news,” produced by the same team that created the DNC’s infomercials at the Democrats’ convention last summer. Observers expect there will be no difficulty finding “A-list talent” to participate in the ritual tongue bath. What’s unusual about this “special” is not that it will exist but that ABC, CBS, and NBC are planning to donate their airwaves for a period of 90 minutes to two hours in order to promote the Democratic Party with glamour and spectacle. In industry parlance, this is known as a “roadblock” strategy — the idea is that viewers are forced to watch the stuff if you turn on the TV. (True, if this is 1974, but at least most people have other options today.) Fox is not participating in the state-propaganda exercise.

On January 20, 2017, the prime-time coverage of Donald Trump’s inauguration by the entertainment networks was limited to skeptical coverage by news divisions, not splashy celebrations produced by RNC messaging specialists. There was a one-hour news show on CBS (Change and Challenge: The Election of Donald Trump) and one hour on ABC’s 20/20. Otherwise, the evening slate was filled up with the likes of episodes of Blue Bloods, Shark Tank, Hawaii Five-O, etc.

Apparently the Biden-celebration plan isn’t final yet, according to Variety, but it’s amazing how willingly a media-industrial complex that has been derided as “state-run” for so many years by Rush Limbaugh and others volunteers to turn itself from attack dog to lapdog depending on which party is in power. If the first duty of the media is to be skeptical and questioning about those in power, then come January 20, Fox News Channel will be the most important media outlet in America, correct? And Fox will be showered with praise by Brian Stelter and all other “media watchdogs” for declining to participate in this Vladimir Putin–like melding of political and media power on inauguration night? Isn’t that how this works?


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