We’re two days out from President Biden’s first ever formal press conference and Washington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan is getting worried. Not for her fellow journalists, getting transparent information from a president who has been hiding from the press for over 60 days now, of course. She’s concerned that the press will be too tough on Biden... to prevent criticism from the right.
The Post media critic warned in her Tuesday column that Thursday will be a “major test for news organizations and reporters” and you’ll never guess what unbiased expert she turns to back up this argument:
But when President Biden steps to the lectern Thursday, the pressure will also be on the White House press corps themselves, as reporters recalibrate after the tumultuous, misinformation-filled Trump years to a president who is far less showy and, to date, much more truthful.
It’s a major test for news organizations and reporters in covering Biden.
And Joe Lockhart, the press secretary under President Bill Clinton, fears the press corps won’t be able to resist walking in with the mentality of, “We’re gonna show all the MAGA people we can be just as tough on Biden as we were on Trump.”
Sullivan’s irritation that President Biden might get tough questions from the press extended to the attention now being paid to the border crisis. She mocked ABC News for making the issue “Extremely Important”:
So far, our political press corps has been treating the issue with far more heat than light. This past weekend, ABC News relocated its “Powerhouse Roundtable” — the panel discussion segment of its Sunday morning news show — to the Texas border. It was hard to say just what that accomplished other than declaring the subject Extremely Important.
While conceding it was a “legitimate” story, she outright scoffed at the idea that the media should hold Biden to the same standard as Trump: “[M]uch of the news media seems to be using it to show that they intend to present Biden in just as critical a light as they often did Trump — whether or not that’s deserved.”
After brushing off concerns the Biden admin refused to let media inside these migrant facilities, Sullivan knocked the White House press as too ignorant about immigration to ask fair questions.
She also argued they were too preoccupied about the appearance of impartiality and appeasing Fox News pundits:
Political reporters cover the president, and as knowledgeable and talented as they may be, they lack the expertise of science or health journalists — or in this case, longtime immigration reporters — who can best respond to what’s being said, which includes knowing how to challenge it with deep knowledge.
Instead of insight into the crisis, you get the political frame: How will it play with elected officials and their constituents? How will Trump’s allies play this story? What will Tucker Carlson have to say?
Sullivan ended her column worrying about reporters showboating to get their clicks and spot on television just to “show how tough” they are on Biden:
Every TV reporter has to be thinking about the 10-second clip of their question that might be used on Thursday’s newscast, establishing them as the star du jour who bravely challenged the president....What it shouldn’t turn into, though, is a performative exercise in equating two administrations, just to show how tough we are.
You'll never guess this was the same Margaret Sullivan who told CNN to sue President Trump for temporarily revoking Jim Acosta’s White House press pass, after his ridiculously aggressive behavior during the briefing pictured.
Her concern about reporters being knowledgeable and factual stood in stark contrast to what she said during the Trump administration as well. This was also the same person who praised the media’s absurd obsessive coverage of the fictional “Russian collusion.” Again, the same Sullivan came rushing to Elizabeth Warren’s defense, after conservative media called out her oft-repeated and fake firing story.
So it seems Sullivan only wants factual, fair and respectful reporters when a Democrat's in office.