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ABC, CBS and NBC all covered the significant news of President Biden testing positive for COVID during their evening newscasts on Thursday, but a conservative watchdog noticed that only one of them sounded the alarm that age is a growing concern for the 79-year-old president.
“While all three networks understandably covered Biden testing positive for COVID, NBC Nightly News was the only nightly newscast to note how Biden’s age has been a liability for him and his COVID diagnosis isn’t helping matters,” Media Research Center analyst Kevin Tober wrote.
Indeed, NBC News White House correspondent Peter Alexander said, “The White House has taken significant steps to avoid the president contracting COVID, including requiring a negative test for anyone scheduled to meet with him. At 79, President Biden is America’s oldest president, and today’s diagnosis comes amid a growing focus on his age and health.”
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NBC News even cited a poll that found only “33 percent of Americans give him high marks for having the necessary mental and physical health to be” president.
“Today the White House downplayed the level of concern with his illness, despite his age,” Alexander said.
Putting an emphasis on Biden’s advanced age being a growing issue isn’t something that automatically occurs when mainstream news outlets cover Biden, who turns 80 in November. Evening newscasts on ABC and CBS mentioned his age but didn’t go much further than that.
When covering the COVID positive test, ABC’s “World News Tonight” anchor David Muir briefly mentioned Biden’s age and immediately pivoted to White House talking points.
“From the White House today, Dr. Jha, the COVID response coordinator, offering reassuring words, saying the president has mild symptoms, a runny nose, a dry cough, and repeatedly pointing out the president had his two vaccine shots, two boosters, and is now on that antiviral,” Muir said.
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On “CBS Evening News,” anchor Norah O’Donnell asked chief medical correspondent Dr. Jon Lapook “how much of a concern” is it that a 79-year-old has COVID. As Tober noted, O’Donnell “appeared concerned” when asking the question, but she was quickly informed Biden should be OK because he is vaccinated and boosted.
“Of course there’s concern, but he should have significant protection from serious illness by the fact that he’s double boosted. That’s what we’re seeing with the cold symptoms that are very mild, and on top of that he’s getting Paxlovid, which should further reduce his risk by lowering the amount of virus in his system,” Lapook said. “Compare this to two years ago… what a difference two years makes now that we have antivirals and these vaccines.”
The White House physician said Friday that Biden’s COVID-19 symptoms “have improved,” but shared that he had a fever Thursday night.
Fox News’ Brooke Singman contributed to this report.
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