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Backup QB syndrome and self-fulfilling prophecies

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The New York Times has a social media policy that forbids a reporter to “express partisan opinions, promote political views, endorse candidates…,” which means it’s very instructive what is apparently considered an objective fact rather than a “political view” or “partisan opinion”:

Now, I am not personally a view-from-nowhere person, so I think that if the guy hosting the Times’ top political podcast both hates Biden and is so obsessed with Biden’s age that his social media feeds him an endless supply of anti-Biden age memes, I think it’s good for readers to know that, and his work stands up or doesn’t on its own merits anyway. And whether I agree with it or not “Biden’s age is a huge issue in the 2024 election” is certainly a view that many reporters and some voters share, although I wish reporters would think a little more carefully about the causal relationship.

The problem is when your baseline opinion causes you to just make stuff up:

Biden did not say that he would be a one-term president, and he did not imply that he would be a one-term president, and he specifically denied that he would step down after one term. The Ryan Lizza article that as far as I can tell is the only actual piece of evidence for the claim is just a few anonymous aides of very uncertain influence within the Biden campaign floating an idea in December 2019 that Biden might do something that he did not. The idea that Biden saying he would be a “bridge” to the next generation constitutes a pledge to take the (highly unusual) step of stepping down after one term is just absurd, pure wishcasting.

If you want to argue that Biden should step down, that’s your privilege, although I remain highly skeptical about this manifestation of backup QB syndrome, and that goes triple if your idea of a Johnny Unbeatable who would definitely play nationally is like Ron DeSantis or Gavin Newsom. But telling your readers and listeners that Biden promised something he didn’t, because you are personally obsessed with Biden’s age, is a different and worse thing altogether.

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