How the mainstream media backed Biden’s controversial nominees
A year into his administration, multiple prominent nominees of President Biden have faced considerable backlash over their controversial pasts, forcing several to withdraw their names from consideration. Despite these concerns, the mainstream media often failed to mention, or otherwise excused, many of these controversies.
According to the White House, Biden’s former nominee for comptroller of the currency, Saule Omarova, was “one of the country’s leading academic experts on issues related to regulation of systemic risk and structural trends in financial markets.”
Omarova, though, drew harsh criticism from conservatives and financial institutions, with the Wall Street Journal editorial board publishing a piece titled “A bank regulator who hates banks.”
Omarova also praised the Soviet Union for gender equality, received a “Lenin” award while in college, and authored a thesis titled “Karl Marx’s Economic Analysis and the Theory of Revolution in The Capital.”
Shortly after her nomination, Washington Post columnist Helaine Olen declared Omarova “shouldn’t be a controversial nominee.”
MSNBC’s Chris Hayes called pushback against Omarova “cringe-inducing” and said Republicans pushed back for “petty reasons.”
Omarova was arrested in 1995 for retail theft, a detail that came out in the press just weeks before she withdrew her name from the nomination. The incident was not covered by the New York Times or the Washington Post.
Following Omarova’s withdrawal from consideration, the New York Times published a piece claiming she was painted by Republicans as a communist for being born in the Soviet Union rather than because of her left-wing views.
When the White House announced Tracy Stone-Manning as its pick to lead the Bureau of Land Management, the nomination was met with nearly instant outrage.
Republicans raised a series of ethical flags about her past, the most serious being alleged ties to an eco-terrorist practice known as tree spiking.
Tree spiking is a dangerous and potentially fatal tactic where metal rods are inserted into trees, generally concealed within its trunk, to prevent logging.
Manning acknowledged that in 1989, she typed and sent a letter to the Forest Service regarding a tree spiking plot in Idaho tied to radical environmentalist group Earth First.
Despite this, the Washington Post claimed whether Stone-Manning was involved in eco-terrorism was a “tricky question” that “boils down to perspective.” It also said that whether her involvement with Earth First amounted to support of eco-terrorism was an “unsettled” question for history.
Washington Post columnist Paul Waldman also called opposition to Stone-Manning and other nominees “bogus attacks” that Democrats weren’t “falling for.”
Biden nominated David Chipman to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in early April 2021, a move that was withdrawn later that fall.
Chipman drew harsh criticism from Republicans and some moderate Democrats over his ties to gun control groups, including being a senior policy adviser to the liberal group Giffords.
Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., called Chipman an “anti-Second Amendment, gun-grabbing radical that should not lead the agency that regulated firearms.”
Despite bipartisan pushback against the nominee, including from Democrat Sens. Joe Manchin, W.Va. and Jon Tester, Mont., the Washington Post editorial board claimed that “gun obsessives” were stopping Chipman from being confirmed.
“The problem is the same one that has foiled ATF confirmations since the director’s job became Senate-confirmable in 2015: the gun lobby,” the Post wrote, claiming that the Senate would otherwise “prioritize confirming a nominee with such eminent qualifications.”
Following his withdrawal from consideration, Chipman told CBS it’s “easier to buy a gun than a beer” in much of the United States, a claim that was met with no pushback from host Norah O’Donnell.
Neera Tanden, Biden’s pick for director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, faced harsh scrutiny for inflammatory tweets against Republicans, leading to her eventual withdrawal from consideration.
Tanden, the former president of the Center for American Progress, deleted more than 1,000 tweets after Biden nominated her, many of them personal attacks against lawmakers.
She referred to former Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., as “Moscow Mitch,” implying he was working on behalf of Russia, and once called Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and then-Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., “criminally ignorant.”
Media pundits claimed criticism of Tanden was based on gender, including MSNBC far-left anchor Joy Reid, who cited a HuffPost article declaring Biden’s “nominees of color are facing outsize opposition.”
“What’s with you, Manchin?” Reid asked.
Washington Post columnist Karen Tumulty admitted the tweets were “rude and juvenile” but that they were “fairly tame compared with what one sees on Twitter every day.”
“It seems fair to wonder whether sexism is a factor working against Tanden in the male-dominated Senate,” she wrote.
Fox News’ Lindsay Kornick and Joseph Wulfsohn contributed to this report