The Associated Press and ABC News came under fire Friday for a story and tweet fuming about Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W. Va., and how a “single senator” is “about to seriously set back” President Biden’s agenda.
ABC News shared the AP story republished on its site, tweeting, “A single senator is about to seriously set back an entire presidential agenda.” The piece quoted multiple Democrats frustrated with the least liberal member of their ranks, who represents a state that Donald Trump won by 39 points in 2020.
“In an extraordinary display of political power in the evenly split 50-50 Senate, a single senator is about to seriously set back an entire presidential agenda,” the AP wrote, adding, “despite Democrats slashing Biden’s big bill in half and meeting the senator’s other demands, Manchin is no closer to voting yes” on Biden’s massive Build Back Better domestic spending package.
“Failing to deliver on Biden’s roughly $2 trillion social and environmental bill would be a stunning end to the president’s first year in office,” the AP wrote.
The AP story called Manchin an “uneven negotiator” and said it was “unclear” what he wanted in a final package that he could stomach. The Democrat-controlled House already passed the Build Back Better bill, but it would have to convince its far-left members to agree with a slimmed-down version preferred by Manchin to get to Biden’s desk for signature.
“And it all raises the question of whether Manchin even wants Congress to pass any ‘Build Back Better Act’ at all,” the AP reported, not explicitly mentioning that even moderate Republicans who supported Biden’s infrastructure bill are opposed to Build Back Better.
Critics erupted at the AP piece, noting it didn’t appear Manchin was being celebrated like a “maverick” bucking party leadership would be as a Republican. Also, that the chamber’s 50 Republicans are united in opposition to Biden’s Build Back Better deal seemed to be cast aside in favor of the narrative that Manchin alone was blocking Biden’s agenda.
“Actually, it would be 51 senators ‘setting back’ a presidential agenda … The idea that senators are obligated to serve a president’s agenda undermines the principle of checks and balances,” writer Fred Bauer noted.
“Is ABC just retweeting White House talking points now?” Washington Times reporter Mike Glenn asked.
The Bulwark’s Tim Miller, an MSNBC analyst who supports Biden, also castigated the article and called it strange for Democrats to rip into Manchin when he represents one of the reddest states in the country.
“Don’t the woke kids call this erasure?” quipped The Dispatch’s Rachael Larimore.
Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., have come under relentless pressure from mainstream media outlets for not going along with some of Biden’s progressive agenda, in a tone unmistakeably different from how Republicans who bucked President Trump were covered.
AP fumes at Joe Manchin for blocking Biden: ‘Single senator’ is going to ‘seriously set back’ entire agenda