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Tuesday, March 23, 2021

OPINION:

After President Biden on Friday stumbled repeatedly while mounting the stairs of Air Force One, the jokes almost wrote themselves.

“Air Force One Now Equipped With Handicap Parking Pass,” The Babylon Bee wrote. “Putin Challenges Biden To Stair-Climbing Contest,” the satire site wrote in another piece.


The memes were also great: In one, former President Donald Trump is seen hitting a drive on a golf course three times, with each of his balls then hitting Mr. Biden, causing him to stumble. Another meme showed a photoshopped video of Mr. Biden sitting on an Easy Climber stair lift on the Air Force One staircase.

But there was something not as funny beneath the hilarious surface (and look, the 78-year-old president wasn’t hurt at all in the repeated stumbles, which means we can laugh at the whole thing).

Here’s what the silly little story exposed (even more): Media bias.

When Mr. Trump held onto a railing while walking down a slippery ramp during a trip to West Point in the heat of the 2020 presidential campaign, The New York Times wrote a piece headlined, “Trump’s Halting Walk Down Ramp Raises New Health Questions.”

“Mr. Trump — who turned 74 on Sunday, the oldest a U.S. president has been in his first term — was recorded hesitantly descending the ramp one step at a time after he delivered an address to graduating cadets at the New York-based academy on Saturday,” The Times reported June 14, 2020.

Other mainstream media piled on, and in September, Mr. Biden joked, “Watch how I run up ramps and he stumbles down ramps. OK? Come on!”

Now remember, Mr. Trump didn’t fall, he just took caution not to fall.

After Mr. Biden fell — and not once, but three times. The third time he almost hit his head on the stairs as he struggled to hang onto the railing.

About that, The Times wrote this headline: “Biden ‘Doing 100 Percent Fine’ After Tripping While Boarding Air Force One.”

The paper also ran some cover for the stumbling, bumbling Mr. Biden.

“It’s pretty windy outside,” Karine Jean-Pierre, the principal deputy press secretary, told reporters traveling with Mr. Biden to Georgia on Friday,” The Times wrote. “It’s very windy. I almost fell coming up the steps myself. He is doing 100 percent fine.”

White House Communications Director Kate Bedingfield, meanwhile, said Friday that Mr. Biden’s stumbling was “nothing more than a misstep on the stairs.”

But those two excuses morphed even more Monday, when press secretary Jen Psaki said it wasn’t the wind, it was the “tricky” stairs leading to the door of the presidential aircraft that caused Mr. Biden to stumble over and over.

“I don’t know if you’ve been up those steps, they’re a little tricky sometimes,” Ms. Psaki said, adding that the Biden is “100% fine.”

Well, which is it: A misstep? The wind? Some tricky stairs? Who knows. Ms. Psaki also dodged questions about whether Mr. Biden saw a doctor afterward.

The evolving excuses — and the MSM’s lack of interest in the story — didn’t escape the eyes of Donald Trump Jr., who pounced on the unbalanced coverage (and president).

“I remember the press bashing Trump for touching the rail once. Biden falls repeatedly but I’m sure he’s the picture of health. No wonder all our enemies are pouncing simultaneously and mocking him publicly,” he wrote on Twitter.

The Babylon Bee also mocked the changing tale. “White House press secretary Jen Psaki was asked if the new parking permit had anything to do with the President’s recent fall on the stairs of Air Force One.

‘Absolutely not,’ Psaki said. ‘The President slipped because he was hit with a hurricane-force wind burst caused by global warming. There was also some, uh, fried chicken grease left over from the Trump administration that made the steps extra slippery.’”

The former president also jumped into the fray.

“That tumble was terrible. It wasn’t really one, it was three, and it wasn’t mentioned for the most part in the lamestream media,” Mr. Trump told Newsmax in a phone interview Monday. “It’s terrible, the whole thing is incredible. There’s no longer freedom of the press.”

Mr. Trump also explained why he took it easy down that ramp.

“Actually when I went down the ramp at West Point, which was like a sheet of ice with no railing, no nothing — great planning — I wanted to go inch by inch because the last thing I wanted to do was take a tumble like Biden did,” he said.

But then Newsmax host Greg Kelly asked, “Were you as shocked as I was” at the lack of MSM coverage?

“I expected it, actually,” Mr. Trump said.

As we all should by now.

• Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times. He can be reached at josephcurl@gmail.com and on Twitter @josephcurl.


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