Opinion: The media need to ask Joe Biden these tough questions
Democratic Party presidential nominee Joe Biden finally held what was billed as a press conference with journalists recently — something of a rarity in a campaign that's relied on staged question-and-answer sessions. It was a truly embarrassing display of hackery from the media.
Here's a quick sampling of some of the queries Biden faced from supposedly dispassionate journalists:
A reporter asked Biden about anonymously sourced claims (published last week in the Atlantic) that Trump had made belittled remarks about veterans: "When you hear these remarks ... what does it tell you about Trump's soul and the life he leads?"
Follow-up: What would Biden "say to supporters of QAnon" and to Trump for "not rejecting that conspiracy?"
"We also know that Russia has been trying to sow doubt about the system. Are you concerned at all that this messaging may be working, that your supporters may give up on voting by mail because they're concerned that it may be rigged?"
"You said today is the angriest you've been as a presidential candidate, but you said you're trying to restrain yourself. Aren't there a lot of people out there who are supporting you or inclined to not vote for the president, who would say, 'Why isn't Joe Biden, angrier about all of this?'"
And so on.
The questions largely gauged Biden's disappointment regarding the presidency of Donald Trump, a completely legitimate topic for the candidate to bring up, but not one that allegedly independent media should be prompting him on. Surely, there are important queries. They could, for example, ask Biden:
After 45 years, you recently dropped your support for the Hyde Amendment, which barred taxpayer funding of abortions. Does your position now comport with the Democratic Party establishment, which backs abortion on demanded funded by the state until the ninth month of pregnancy? If not, can you point to a single restriction that a Biden administration would support?
You recently talked about how your Catholic faith had inspired your run for the presidency. You've also recently promised to reinstate Obama-era policies rolling back conscience protections for religious groups. Will a Biden administration renew efforts to sue charitable orders like the Little Sisters of the Poor in an effort to force them to pay for birth control in violation of their religious beliefs?
You once promised to put Beto O'Rourke — who said, "Hell yes, we're going to take your [guns]" — in charge of gun control efforts in a Biden administration. Will you keep that promise? Your running mate Kamala Harris also supports the confiscation of "assault weapons." Will your gun ban also be retroactive?
During the campaign, you publicly supported the "defund the police" movement — using the definition laid out by advocates of that cause. Now you say you no longer back redirecting funds from police departments. What changed your mind?
During the Democratic Party primaries, you supported a carbon tax and renewable mandates. Even the liberal Tax Policy Center says you will raise taxes on the middle class and small businesses. So how can you claim that you won't raise taxes on anyone making less than $400,000 when the burden for those programs and hikes are borne by everyone?
You have embraced Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's Green New Deal, which proposes banning cars and air travel, as a framework for your energy policy. On numerous occasions, you've stated support for a fracking ban. You've since walked back that claim. What changed your mind, and how will you achieve your promised goal of "a 100 percent clean energy economy and net-zero emissions no later than 2050" without restricting affordable fossil fuels?
You have promised to return to the Obama administration's directives on Title IX, which have denied due process to college students accused of sexual misconduct, preventing them from questioning their accusers, presenting exculpatory evidence and calling witnesses. Why don't college students deserve the same presumption of innocence that you enjoyed after Tara Reade accused you of sexual assault?
You've said you're not a fan of charter schools because they "siphon off money for our public schools, which are already in enough trouble." How do you plan on imposing the federal government on localities and stopping them from offering more choices to parents and kids?
You have changed your position on the 1994 Crime Bill, a bill you authored, as well as on the Defense of Marriage Act, the Iraq War, spending freezes for Social Security, NAFTA, busing and so on. Can you name any major bill you supported as a senator that you still support today?
A majority of Democratic Party voters believed that Russia altered votes to win the 2016 election for Donald Trump. Are you concerned that this popular conspiracy theory delegitimizes the presidential election? What do you say to these members of your party?
We've now seen more than one report that Democratic Party leaders and allied organizations may challenge the results of the election if you lose the Electoral College. Do you support this effort, or will you accept the constitutional prescribed election results?
Those are just some of the topics that come to mind. Biden has been getting away with flat-out lying about a lot of these issues for months. After an eight-year vacation during Obama's terms, we've seen lots of aggressive questioning of the president over the past four years. Nothing wrong with that. It would be nice, however, to see even a scintilla of that investigative zeal in the Biden coverage.
David Harsanyi is a senior writer at the National Review and author of the book "First Freedom: A Ride Through America's Enduring History With the Gun."