President Joe Biden is facing scrutiny for granting interviews primarily to what critics label as “friendly talk show hosts,” leading to accusations of avoiding tough questions and crucial issues, including the Hunter Biden scandal.
New York Times reporter Zolan Kanno-Youngs addressed this concern at the 2023 Texas Tribune Festival in Austin, questioning Biden’s limited accessibility to traditional press.
Lack of Accessibility Compared to Predecessor
During a panel discussion on media coverage of the Biden administration, journalists highlighted the contrast between Biden’s accessibility and that of his predecessor, former President Trump, who often engaged with reporters directly.
Kanno-Youngs observed that while daily press briefings have resumed under the Biden administration, there appears to be a different standard when it comes to transparency.
Sparse Print Interviews and Favorable Outlets
Kanno-Youngs pointed out that Joe Biden has only given one interview to a print outlet, the Associated Press, in June 2022.
This observation raises concerns about the president’s limited engagement with traditional journalism.
Additionally, Biden’s recent interviews have been notably with outlets viewed as sympathetic, raising questions about the intention to control the narrative and avoid challenging inquiries.
Joe Biden: Evading Critical Issues
Despite the opportunity for interviews, Joe Biden has not been pressed on the growing legal troubles facing his son, Hunter Biden.
Recent interviews with MSNBC, CNN, and The Weather Channel did not address allegations of DOJ interference into the Hunter probe or controversies surrounding the Biden family’s collection of foreign funds. The president’s reluctance to address these critical matters further fuels concerns about transparency and accountability.
Criticisms and Controversies
Biden’s handling of several recent events has garnered criticism, adding to the growing perception of a lack of transparency.
These include inconsistencies in mask-wearing, early departures from ceremonies, questionable comments during press conferences, and controversies surrounding 9/11 ceremonies and foreign policy decisions. These incidents, combined with the lack of engagement with the press, raise questions about the administration’s communication strategy.
The Biden administration’s approach to media engagement is under increased scrutiny, with many advocating for greater transparency and direct engagement with a broader spectrum of journalists to address pressing national issues.
Stopped From Addressing Press-By His Own Staff
The White House press team has already faced criticism for intervening in the President’s interactions with press. Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre abruptly cut short a press conference with President Joe Biden in Hanoi, Vietnam earlier this month.
Her actions came as President Biden was still fielding questions from reporters in the room.
As President Biden addressed shouted questions from the press in the Vietnamese capital, Jean-Pierre stepped up to the microphone and declared, “Thank you everybody – this ends the press conference.” Although Biden remained on stage briefly after her announcement, his response to an additional question was largely inaudible.
The President had initially committed to taking five questions from the reporters present at the press conference. He had even quipped, “I tell you what, I don’t know about you, but I’m going to bed,” before proceeding to respond to additional questions regarding his conversation with Chinese Premier Li Qiang. It was during this exchange that he was interrupted by the press secretary.
Throughout the press conference, President Biden acknowledged the demanding nature of his whirlwind international trip, humorously remarking at one point, “These five-day trips around the world are no problem.”
Minutes before the press secretary’s unexpected move, President Biden delivered an extended response that included a somewhat meandering explanation of why he uses the phrase “lying dog-faced pony soldier” to describe politicians who deny climate change.
About the Author
Georgia Gilholy is a journalist based in the United Kingdom who has been published in Newsweek, The Times of Israel, and the Spectator. Gilholy writes about international politics, culture, and education.
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