Democrats worry negative images are defining Biden administration
Democrats are worried that Joe Biden’s presidency is at risk of being defined by a series of negative images from Afghanistan and the US-Mexico border.
“Political stories are often told through images, and the images have been really strong and they almost supersede what’s in the column space below them,” said Joel Payne, a Democratic strategist.
Video and pictures from Afghanistan last month showed disturbing scenes of people climbing onto aircraft to escape. One video, which gained viral attention, showed people falling to their death from the undercarriage of a plane.
“They do raise kind of basic questions of execution and competency,” said Bill Kristol, a leading conservative voice who was a staunch critic of the Trump administration.
Earlier this week, the White House had to respond to images of Border Patrol agents on horseback pushing back Haitian refugees on the Texas-Mexico border.
In both situations, the Biden administration received bipartisan criticism.
“What we witnessed was worse than what we witnessed in slavery,” Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) said in response to the scenes from the border. “Cowboys, with their reins … whipping Black people, Haitians, into the water while they’re scrambling, falling down.”
Payne says the Biden administration needs to provide context to the photos and reacts quickly.
“It’s very important to balance out those images with context,” he said. “It’s always better to preempt the story, not be in reaction mode.”