Prior to Friday morning, when MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough defended Biden’s “inartful” comments on diversity and CNN’s John Berman pointed out the “irony” of President Trump going after Biden over his racially-charged remarks, there was a virtual blackout of the controversy for nearly two full days on their networks.
Biden’s rocky situation began Wednesday morning when a preview clip was released from his interview that at the convention of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ).
In the full interview, broadcast Thursday, Biden contrasted the Black and Latino communities, saying “unlike the African American community, with notable exceptions, the Latino community is an incredibly diverse community with incredibly different attitudes about different things.”
Later in the day, Biden repeated those remarks while speaking virtually to the National Association of Latino Elected Officials conference. In that appearance, he vowed that if elected, his administration will reflect “the full diversity of this nation” as well as “the full diversity of the Latino communities.”
“Now what I mean [by] full diversity [is] unlike the African American community and many other communities, you’re from everywhere,” Biden explained. “You’re from Europe, from the tip of South America, all the way to our border in Mexico, and the Caribbean. And [of] different backgrounds, different ethnicities, but all Latinos. We’re gonna get a chance to do that if we win in November.”
Biden attempted to walk back those comments Thursday evening.
“Earlier today, I made some comments about diversity in the African American and Latino communities that I want to clarify,” Biden wrote on Twitter. “In no way did I mean to suggest the African American community is a monolith—not by identity, not on issues, not at all.
“Throughout my career,” he continued, “I’ve witnessed the diversity of thought, background, and sentiment within the African American community. It’s this diversity that makes our workplaces, communities, and country a better place. My commitment to you is this: I will always listen, I will never stop fighting for the African American community and I will never stop fighting for a more equitable future.”
Those tweets, however, did not address the heated spat he had with CBS News correspondent Errol Barnett, who questioned the former VP about whether he has taken a cognitive test in the preview clip released Wednesday.
“No, I haven’t taken a test. Why the hell would I take a test? Come on, man. That’s like saying you, before you got on this program, you take a test whether you’re taking cocaine or not. What do you think? Huh? Are you a junkie?” Biden told Barnett, who is Black.
MSNBC only covered Biden’s “Are you a junkie?” remark twice throughout the day, once during the 11 a.m. timeslot and once during the 11 p.m. timeslot. CNN avoided the comment altogether.
Meanwhile, CNN covered Biden’s “diversity” comparison once, and that was when anchor John King appeared to defend the Democratic candidate from attacks he had received from President Trump.
“Is it very insulting?” King asked, alluding to Trump’s criticism. “Did Joe Biden disparage and insult the Black community?”
Before members of the accompanying panel were able to respond, King seemed to attempt to answer his own question.
“He’s trying to make the point, and maybe he didn’t make it articulately as he would have liked, [but] I believe the point he was trying to make is that most African Americans overwhelmingly support Democrats, and if you go around the country — you go to Florida, for example, you have the Cuban American population, or you might have a Puerto Rican population that has moved to Florida that has a different view than, let’s say, a Latino in Nevada or Arizona,” King elaborated.
While that was the only time CNN covered that gaffe, MSNBC took a page out of CNN’s playbook and completely avoided it. And both networks failed to mention Biden’s mea culpa Thursday evening.
CNN and MSNBC, though, had plenty of time to condemn Trump’s religiously charged attacks against Biden, accusing his 2020 rival of being “against God.”