OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
CNN, not known for criticizing the Biden administration and Democrats, nevertheless took the White House and the president’s party to task on Friday over rising inflation and a worsening economy.
In a segment with anchor Jake Tapper, CNN’s senior reporter Harry Enten warned the administration that both of those issues are uppermost in the minds of a vast majority of Americans heading into the midterms, though it does not seem that the administration can or has done much to address either of them.
In addition, high gas prices and an ongoing baby formula shortage that Biden himself admitted he didn’t fully understand as late as April are adding to extremely high disapproval ratings for the president and his party.
To begin the segment, Tapper asked, “Harry Enten joins us now from the magic wall with more on these rising costs. Harry, just how bad are gas prices from a historical and political point of view?”
“I think that this table tells a story. This is the yearly change and the average gasoline prices at this point in the midterm cycle,” Enten began.
“Right now, we’re at the top. Up 53 percent from last year. That is the highest in any midterm cycle since 1994,” he continued. “And as a student of political history, I can’t help but notice the next highest ones, 2006, 2010, saw major gains for the opposition party in 2006 being the Democrats, 2010 being the Republicans.
“When I see gas prices like you saw in the last slide, I can’t help but think I want to do a lot more walking,” Enten continued. “You might be asking yourself, how is this impacting President Joe Biden look at his job performance on gas prices. I don’t have to be a mathematical expert to know 31 percent is a very, very bad number.
“The vast majority, more than two-thirds of Americans disapprove of Joe Biden’s job on gas prices,” Enten said.
Tapper responded with a follow-up question: “Another huge issue is inflation in general, as we head into the midterms. How is that impacting President Biden?”
“You know, I hate to say it, if I were the president, but look at this. Basically the exact same approval rating. Joe Biden’s approval rating on inflation [is] just 28 percent,” Enten said.
“Disapproval rating, two-thirds of Americans disapprove of Joe Biden’s job performance on inflation,” said the senior correspondent, adding this warning: “You know that is a very, very, very, very, very bad number when what is the most urgent issue facing Americans? Look at that, inflation, 33 percent, the clear runaway there.”
Earlier Friday, CNN published an extensive report claiming that layers of “dysfunction” within the Biden White House are hampering the president’s ability to connect with the American people.
The report lays bare the disconnect between the Biden administration and the vast majority of the country as the president and vice president have dropped to the 30s in terms of approval, taking members of their party with them:
Being familiar never makes the feeling less dreadful: White House aides emailing each other during one of President Joe Biden’s stops on the road, tracking who’s covering what he’s saying, which TV channels are taking the speech live — and realizing a number of times that the answer was none.
“You are thinking,” said one person familiar, “why are we doing this?”
Biden and his inner circle get weekly readouts of the metrics on local newspaper coverage of his speeches, how long and for what he was covered on cable, but also videos that staff post on Twitter and other social media interactions. Those reports go on the piles with internal memos from pollsters saying Biden isn’t breaking through in traditional news outlets and that the people who are engaged are mostly voters who’ve already made up their minds.
But beneath this struggle to break through is a deeper dysfunction calcified among aides who largely started working together only through Zoom screens and still struggle to get in rhythm. They’re still finding it hard to grasp how much their political standing has changed over the last year, and there’s a divide between most of the White House staff and the inner circle who have been around Biden for longer than most of the rest of that staff has been alive.
“[Biden] has to speak to very serious things and you can’t do that getting ice cream,” one White House aide complained to the network.