New York Times correspondent Sheryl Gay Stolberg faced backlash for appearing to defend President Biden’s age against concerns that it could affect his potential 2024 re-election campaign.
Biden’s age, he turned 80 on Sunday, has been a frequent issue among Republican critics and even some Democratic allies and media pundits. If he were to win re-election in the 2024 presidential race, Biden would be 86 years old at the end of his second term.
Stolberg wrote that aging experts explained octogenarians who are “active, engaged and have a sense of purpose can remain productive and healthy — and that wisdom and experience are important factors to consider.”
“Mr. Biden, these experts agreed, has a lot going in his favor: He is highly educated, has plenty of social interaction, a stimulating job that requires a lot of thinking, is married and has a strong family network — all factors that, studies show, are protective against dementia and conducive to healthy aging. He does not smoke or drink alcohol and, according to the White House, he exercises five times a week. He also has top-notch medical care,” Stolberg wrote.
She noted that the New York Times spoke with 10 experts on the subject, though they “have not examined or treated Mr. Biden.” Additionally, these experts argued that “the brain continues to evolve” even in advanced age “and some brain functions can even improve.”
Stolberg concluded, “As to whether age should matter in any election, Dr. Nir Barzilai, who is leading a study of centenarians and directs the Institute for Aging Research at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, put it simply: ‘Age,’ he said, ‘is not something to consider on its own.’”
Some social media users did not agree with Stolberg’s reporting and described the article as an attempt to defend President Biden.
“He’s not 90?” Substack writer Jim Treacher tweeted.
“To hold major office in D.C. these days, you must be at least 85,” Ricochet editor-in-chief Jon Gabriel joked.
AdQuick marketing vice president Adam Singer wrote, “We have age restrictions on being too young to run for president. That’s in theory a form of ageism unless we also gate the other end. Biologically it makes sense, too. Please stop normalizing the below. Is insane we chose folk not in prime physically functional years to lead…”
Novelist M.A. Rothman wrote, “This is ridiculous. I’d argue that there should be an age limit, but since there isn’t I’d say there should be mandatory cognitive evaluations with a minimum bar to serve. We don’t need mentally impaired people representing us, regardless of age.”
“No red wave so now we gotta start talking about how hale and healthy he is,” conservative commentator Noam Blum tweeted.
Despite Stolberg’s article, New York Times columns and prior reports have written about Biden’s age being an “uncomfortable issue” for the Democratic Party. In December, columnist Bret Stephens even implored Biden not to run for a second term due to his age.
“Is it a good idea for Joe Biden to run for reelection in 2024? And, if he runs again and wins, would it be good for the United States to have a president who is 86 — the age Biden would be at the end of a second term?” he wrote. “I put these questions bluntly because they need to be discussed candidly, not just whispered constantly.”