Beltway Media Whining About Thing, And It Is WHAR JOE BIDEN?
Why is President Joe Biden hiding from the press? That's what the press wants to know. Biden's been president for more than 50 days and he hasn't given a press conference! It's like he's busy with a pandemic or something.
The Washington Post reported on this scandal Friday:
Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton both did their first one after just nine days in office.
Barack Obama waited 20 days.
And Donald Trump had been president for only a week before giving his first news conference, where he fielded questions alongside then-British Prime Minister Theresa May.
But Joe Biden still hasn't had a formal news conference since his inauguration on Jan. 20. Thursday was his 50th full day in office.
Peter Baker at the New York Times tweeted: "At this point in office, Trump had given five news conferences. Obama had given two, George W. Bush three and Clinton five. Biden so far has given zero." ZERO! That's, like, none at all. What's Biden hiding and why is it Hunter Biden's laptop?
Look, we should reasonably hold Biden to a higher standard than the previous White House occupant, but it's still infuriating to see reporters giving Trump credit for holding press conferences. When I sing “Rose's Turn" in the shower, that's not a professional production of Gypsy, and Trump never held what I'd consider a legitimate press conference. He just yelled insults and lies at reporters before walking away.
The Washington Post conceded that Biden "has often taken a question or two from reporters at the end of speeches or statements, as he did Wednesday after remarks about an increase in the coronavirus vaccine supply. "But this somehow doesn't qualify as a press conference, even though the Post seemed OK with the one-term loser's “chopper press conferences." In 2019, the Post expressed concern about his informal press gaggles but also said it was "a page from former president Ronald Reagan's playbook," which normalized the action.
And later that year, the Post wrote that the chopper press conferences were "a win-win for Trump, enabling him to grab the spotlight while marginalizing the press, both aurally and visually." That's right. The media praised the former guy for kicking their own ass. This was a common theme.
Biden doesn't receive similar credit for keeping his distance. It's not as if he's shut out the press. Jen Psaki, his press secretary, holds regular briefings that are more than just "Fox & Friends" segments. She never lies once. Although CNN apparently considers Psaki's professionalism too dull for its viewers, Wonkette livestreams these briefings. They're very good. Psaki delivers actual facts and answers questions rationally. I confess I watched way too much of "The West Wing" in my 20s, but I don't recall President Bartlet regularly engaging with the press unless it was a season finale cliffhanger. That was C.J. Cregg's job, and she was awesome.
The previous White House occupant often attacked reporters, especially Black women, because he's a bully. Biden meanwhile has successfully delegated pantsing Peter Doocy to Psaki. This is a legitimate strategy that the press doesn't seem to acknowledge.
Psaki's immediate predecessor is known liar Kayleigh McEnany, who the Post thought was a good idea to reference in its story.
Kayleigh McEnany suggested last week that Biden is ducking the media to avoid gaffes, and that his staff is "protecting" him from the sort of unscripted exchanges he would face in a news conference. Former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows made similar comments to Fox News host Sean Hannity on Tuesday, and Hannity alleged that the White House is continuing to "hide" Biden.
These are all anti-Biden rightwing talking points. I couldn't locate examples of liberal pundits weighing in on the chopper press conference stories. Maybe McEnany's former boss would recommend bleach-related COVID-19 cures if he spoke to the press long enough, but despite Republicans' insistence to the contrary, Biden isn't actually senile.
Jonathan Karl, ABC News's White House reporter, insisted that the demand for press conferences is really just for our benefit: "People have a right to see their president regularly answering questions."
Sure, we guess.
The Post's editorial board said, "Americans have every right to expect that [the president] will regularly submit himself to substantial questioning." That sounds like Biden committed a major felony. Calm down, guys.
Hunter Walker at Yahoo! News pointed out that Biden has held at least 40 informal Q&As with reporters. Biden's staff wouldn't permit this if they were “protecting" the president, as gross liar McEnany claims.
Psaki has confirmed that Biden will have an old-school press conference before the end of the month. He's just been a little bit busy putting money in our accounts and keeping COVID-19 from killing us.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."