New York Times Is Grasping at Straws, Criticizes Joe Biden for Owning a Peloton | The Mary Sue
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New York Times Is Grasping at Straws, Criticizes Joe Biden for Owning a Peloton

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers his inaugural address on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol

After four-plus years of normalizing the behavior of a racist, misogynistic, aspiring authoritarian, the New York Times has wasted no time in readjusting to nitpicking entirely unimportant, unproblematic details of the incoming administration.

The point the paper’s op-ed section has decided to take issue with today is the revelation that Joe and Jill Biden own a Peloton bike. Yup we’re back to “tan suit” levels of White House criticism.

The first issue writer Sheryl Gay Stolberg takes with President (!) Biden’s Peloton is a question of cybersecurity. For the uninitiated, a Peloton is a stationary bike with an attached tablet that streams live classes (both for the bike and a whole range of other cardio, strength, yoga, and other workouts), along with a library of previously live classes. Each tablet also has a camera built in, I believe so that users can connect with friends during rides although literally no one I know uses that feature. (And here’s where I guess I have to out myself as a Peloton owner.)

Sure, bringing a camera connected to a random corporation’s app into the White House isn’t ideal. So they’re probably not going to do that. As the Times notes, Michelle Obama has been reported to have a Peloton that’s been modified to remove the camera and microphone. That report hasn’t been confirmed but even if it’s not accurate, it’s a fine idea and I’m guessing if anyone can get the company to make such a custom bike, it’s probably the President of the United States.

The real problem Stolberg seems to have with the Bidens’ status as Peloton owners is one of optics and of class.

“Peloton does not exactly comport with Mr. Biden’s ‘regular guy from Scranton’ political persona,” writes Stolberg.

That is, quite simply, garbage.

“Peloton was popular before the pandemic with a wealthy subset of home exercisers,” writes the Times, “but with the quarantine, it has become something of a phenomenon in a certain socioeconomic bracket.”

Peloton has a reputation as a ridiculous luxury item, which, on its surface, doesn’t seem unwarranted, given its $1900 – $2400 base price, plus a monthly subscription for classes, shoes, and other add-ons.

But first off, let’s just all admit that Joe Biden is very wealthy. In his life post-Vice Presidency, he’s become a multi-millionaire, thanks to speaking engagements, visiting teaching positions, real estate investments, and more. He does, however, appear to have kept his more middle-class ideals, which means he’s kept his image as a “man of the people” despite his wealth. It would be disingenuous to pretend like he can’t afford a $2,400 bike, so let’s not. (Also, the Times notes that the Bidens only have one bike between them and that they “negotiate” for who gets to ride first in the morning. Honestly, they could easily splurge for two bikes so this is their version of frugality.)

Moreover, Peloton’s reputation is fairly unearned but perpetuated through articles like this that insist it is only used by those in “a certain socioeconomic bracket.” (Am I defensive as an owner myself? Maybe a little, leave me alone!)

As with the camera, I don’t actually know anyone who bought their bikes outright. Instead, the zero-interest payment plan makes the bike (even including the separate class membership) cost less monthly than most gym memberships.

Adding to that the fact that a Peloton is a more COVID-friendly workout option, the framing of Biden as a hypocritical elitist is a weird choice, especially since the last guy to hold this office never exercised and prided himself on using a golden toilet.

(image: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane (she/her) has a lot of opinions about a lot of things. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri with her husband Brock Wilbur and too many cats.