Was Biden too quick to rule out World War III?

An NBC News reporter today pressed President Biden on attacking Russia directly: was he too early to rule out such an attack, even if—as she outright quotes him saying—it would lead to World War III?

Jeet Heer asks, “do people not understand what a direct military conflict between Russia and the USA would entail?” This implies the obvious answers “No”—the delusion that Russia might capitulate or show restraint in the face of humiliation at American hands— or “Yes”—that journos are just a bunch of vacuous psychopaths eager to report bombs flying. You know, like Richard Engel.

But it’s important to understand that news media is a floating world whose inhabitants generally see themselves as voices from nowhere. It’s a worldview rooted not in stories told but in the telling of stories, defining the reality they describe. In this context, to ask what is entailed doesn’t really mean anything, because they’re not assessing necessary or inevitable consequences. They’re writing stories (“Biden: peremptory leader or doddering gaffeur?”, “Putin: villain to some, hero to others”, “Covid: life returns to a new normal”) for as long as it lasts.