Did Media Outlet Reuters Openly Promote the Joe Biden Campaign on Twitter?

AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

 (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

 

It is nuanced but with the Devil in the details, the question is why was the Devil there in the first place?

It is the kind of story that at first leaps to the realm of outrage but, like most stories of this nature, that is specifically when you need to step back and use analysis. On the surface, all looks to be accurate. The director of digital advertising for the Trump campaign, Gary Coby found what looks to be a case of blatant media support for Joe Biden. It not only appears to be a case of tacit support for a campaign but it comports with the appearance of media bias for one party we have come to expect.

At issue, as Coby shows in a tweet, is Reuters was found to have posted an entry that could be interpreted as a pro-Biden campaign announcement. Joe Biden held a virtual town hall, as he has been doing in recent weeks from his home, and he delivered glowing words of praise for those working on the front lines of the coronavirus outbreak. Hardly could it be called hard-hitting news.

But what is in question is the fact that, as Coby showed in the screenshot below, this was, in fact, a promoted tweet.

Charlie Kirk also sent out this notice, and then President Trump even followed suit, retweeting Kirk’s message on his official twitter feed.

So, is this a case of what we see being claimed? Is a major news outlet and wire service actually running campaign promotions on behalf of a presidential candidate? In a short answer, we would have to say ‘’No, but…’’

To say that Reuters is actively campaigning on behalf of Biden here is not accurate. What is likely the case is that Reuters has regular postings of promoted tweets, and it auto-generates stories as they post them throughout the day. The Biden entry was one of their articles that day. It looks to be more of a straight-up promotional puff item as opposed to a news report, as it simply touts what Biden’s messaging was during his latest video broadcast.

However — Twitter has announced it has clamped down tightly on political advertising, and a promoted tweet from a source that is posting an article that is patently just regurgitating Biden’s messaging can be looked at as an in-kind political promotion. This is a trap of the press’ own making. They want to be seen as neutral outlets, yet here, when they basically repeat what comes out of the PR office of a Democrat candidate, they could be tripped up by other standards, unintentionally.