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Our readersMarch 14, 2024
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks during the annual National Prayer Breakfast at the U.S. Capitol in Washington Feb. 1, 2024. (OSV News photo/Evelyn Hockstein, Reuters)

Robert David Sullivan, America’s production editor, argued in a piece published online in February that “it is not the responsibility of the press to tamp down voters’ concerns about President [Joe] Biden’s age,” no matter how pivotal the November election is for the future of this country. “Journalists must strive for accuracy and should convey to readers the high stakes of this election,” Mr. Sullivan wrote. “The political parties must listen to, and make a genuine attempt to respond to, the concerns of voters.” Our readers offered a variety of responses regarding their hopes for media coverage of the 81-year-old Mr. Biden and 77-year-old Donald J. Trump.

I would agree with Mr. Sullivan’s assertion, but at the same time, I have seen little from the media as of late regarding Mr. Trump’s age; he is only a few years younger. His actions and mental mishaps have been just as alarming, if not more so. Given each candidate’s history, I am more concerned about Mr. Trump finishing another presidency than Mr. Biden. Yes, I wish both parties had younger candidates, particularly the Democratic Party, but I tend to rate them both as pretty even with regard to the physical and mental health question. So I feel the article misses that major part of the discussion.
James Puglisi

Mr. Biden’s supporters describe this as an age issue. It’s not about age. If anyone has watched Mr. Biden for the last two years, they have seen a man who hesitates and searches for words when he speaks (not a stuttering issue), who gets names wrong consistently and appears confused on the public stage. He does not successfully handle the very few press conferences that he gives because he does not think clearly on his feet. It’s not an age issue. This is not a push for Mr. Trump to be president. This is simply saying that we need to believe our own eyes and ears.
Walter Witt

I think the concern has more to do with the amount of coverage about Mr. Biden’s age compared with how much less coverage there is about the danger his opponent would bring to the United States and the world. I have worked with seniors much older than Mr. Biden who have remained very sharp. I’m more concerned about the effect of the extreme stress of the presidency on Mr. Biden’s health than his ability to continue to perform well.
Anne Helmrich

And I thought the Gray Panthers and AARP had helped quash ageism. But just like racism, ageism is now again rearing its ugly head, both among Americans and in the media. My husband is Mr. Biden’s age, I’m Mr. Trump’s age, and we are in good mental/intellectual condition and fairly active. We are a lot wiser and have more knowledge and life experience than when we were middle age. One does not have to be a marathon runner to be president; Roosevelt in a wheelchair carried out the important presidential functions just fine.

Mr. Biden has done a terrific job on many fronts—the economy, infrastructure, climate change, help for the poor and struggling, etc.—during his first four years. I expect him to do the same or more in the next four years. And don’t fault him for having a stuttering problem from youth; it’s no indication of one’s intelligence.
Lynn Vincentnathan

The problem is that the concerns of the electorate are in large part fed by media coverage.

I personally think there should be an age limit to hold national political office, just as the Catholic Church arbitrarily sets the retirement age of a parish pastor at 70. But there’s no limit for who can be the leader of our country? This situation is becoming very dangerous for us, the public.
Bruce Ryman

Mr. Sullivan writes, “It is not democratic, with a small ‘d,’ for major media outlets to simply ignore concerns shared by a wide majority of the electorate.” The problem, which Mr. Sullivan glosses over, is that the concerns of the electorate are in large part fed by media coverage. Every single gaffe or other misstatement is attributed to Mr. Biden’s age, whereas when Mr. Trump says something outrageous or dangerous, it’s treated as merely “Trump being Trump.” So for Mr. Biden, it becomes a negative feedback loop that simply doesn’t exist for Mr. Trump.
Mike Joseph

Mr. Sullivan’s piece is a sound analysis. If Mr. Biden stumbles—literally or otherwise—between now and Nov. 5, the Democrats are sunk. We can point out all of Mr. Trump’s faults, but that really doesn’t matter now. Yes, there are super sharp seniors—many older than the president—but this is the toughest job in the world.
Vince Killoran

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