Biden, Booker spar over criminal justice policy

Darron Cummings/AP

Darron Cummings/AP


We ran the numbers: There are 416 news articles covering this topic. 50% (206) are left leaning, 34% (141) center, 17% (69) right leaning.


Ahead of next week's Democratic debate, Joe Biden and Cory Booker (NJ) clashed over criminal justice policy. Booker had attacked Biden’s criminal justice record, and Biden’s camp responded with some critiques of their own, further dividing an already schismatic Democratic field. 

Biden’s response came after Booker’s remarks earlier this week that Biden is the “architect” of policies that “exacerbated racial disparities in the criminal justice system.” In addition, Booker called Biden’s criminal justice plan “inadequate.” 

The Biden campaign responded by pointing to Sen. Booker’s criminal justice record in New Jersey, saying that Booker implemented a “zero tolerance policy for minor infractions.” 

This sparring match between presidential hopefuls comes in the midst of their battle to win the African-American vote. Booker’s remarks may be an attempt to dissuade black voters from supporting Biden, who currently polls highest among African-American voters. 

The two candidates are set to go toe-to-toe on Wednesday night in the second Democratic debate. Biden and Booker will be standing side by side with Sen. Kamala Harris (Calif.), who attacked Biden in the previous debate, standing on Biden’s other side

With the Democratic debate upcoming, much of the news coverage surrounding this clash between two candidates came from the left. Of 406 written articles, 206 (50%) leaned to the left, 141 (33%) were centrist, and 69 (17%) leaned to the right. 

Left-leaning articles tended to focus on the racial focus of today’s Democratic Party. The Washington Post quoted a Democratic strategist and former Obama pollster, Cornell Belcher, as saying “A decade ago, you didn’t hear any Democrat talking about systemic racism.” But now, 10 years later, Blecher says that “almost every Democrat running for office is talking about the issue of systemic racism.” In addition, left-leaning articles also detailed the growing suspense around the next showdown between Biden, Booker, and Harris on Wednesday night. 

Centrist articles, while highlighting the anticipation for the Democratic showdown on Wednesday, also discussed Biden’s current criminal justice plan. The Hill reports that Biden’s proposal “appears aimed at reversing some of the effects” of the 1994 crime bill, which Biden supported, that is now “widely seen as contributing to mass incarceration.” Booker responded to Biden’s proposal by saying, “For a guy that helped to be an architect of mass incarceration, this is an inadequate solution to what is a raging crisis in our country.” 

Right-leaning sources largely emphasized the ongoing feud between Democratic candidates. Fox News reported that Biden said, “I’m not going to be as polite this time,” in reference to his upcoming face-off with Kamala Harris. “Because this is the same person who asked me to come to California and nominate her in her convention.” Fox News also reported that fellow candidate Cory Booker was “disappointed” that it took Biden so long to see the issues with the 1994 crime bill that is widely linked to mass incarceration.