(CNSNews.com) – Former Vice President Joe Biden spoke out Wednesday about efforts to undermine the press and “delegitimize the courts,” saying “an independent and free press is the fundamental element” in a functioning democracy.
Biden spoke about “the almost drumbeat of denigration of the institutional structures that govern us.”
“When you delegitimize the courts, you delegitimize the legislative body. It’s corrosive, and it makes it almost impossible to reach compromise,” he said during a speech where he was given the 2017 Congressional Patriot Award by the Bipartisan Policy Center.
Biden said “if we undermine or destroy” the media, “we do it at our own peril.”
He said he’s taken more than his “fair share of hits from the press,” adding that he’s been “covered by the very best in the business and some of the worst.”
“Some of you press guys are lousy, just like some senators are lousy, like doctors are lousy, lawyers are lousy, but it doesn’t matter. We should never challenge the basic truth that an independent and free press is the fundamental element in functioning of our democracy,” Biden said.
Biden complained that politics “has become much too negative, too nasty, too petty, too personal, and yes, too partisan.”
“Compromise has literally become a dirty word,” he said. “We don’t just question other people’s judgment [when] we disagree with them, but we question their motivation now.”
“If you don’t agree with me, it’s because you’re in the pocket of somebody or if you don’t agree with me, you’re being bought off. If you don’t agree with me, it’s because you are not a good person. We don’t know each other anymore,” Biden said.
He said it’s hard to dislike someone “on the other side when you understand their problems.”
“We’ve got to stop being blinded by anger,” Biden said. “We’ve got to see each other again and continue to focus on hope and the things that unite us.
“I’ve always believed that we’re strongest when we’re one America, and I really mean that – rich, poor, middle-class, black, white, Hispanic, gay, straight, transgender - folks like my family and all of yours at some point who came to this country with a dream – new immigrants arriving today. One America. We’re all in this together. Everybody does their fair share. We can argue about what that share is… but we’ve got to move beyond where we are today,” he said.