Column on Biden and the Press: Is He the Bumper Bowling President?

December 15th, 2023 6:04 AM

Is Joe Biden treating the press better than Donald Trump did? It’s a low bar to argue he doesn’t describe the media as “enemies of the people.” Is he really treating them as they view themselves – as representatives of the people? Or is he not interested in addressing the people? Are they all too negative?

Ben Smith at Semafor reported on the White House holiday party for journalists, described as a chance “to dispel his main problem with the U.S. media right now — the undercurrent of concern that he’s too old for the job. It was an opportunity to say, in some sense: Hey, you idiots, I may be old but I’m fine.”

Smith wrote that Biden made brief remarks at the East Wing party, “which began with the usual joke — I’m for a free press, even when you drive me crazy. But he then strayed into a couple of hazy monologues, which ended only when his wife interrupted him to remind him it was a party.”

This is why Biden’s aides are always keeping the Hazy Monologues President away from reporters. Smith concluded: “I’d expect that speech to echo quietly in reporters’ minds — and in their coverage — over the coming months.”

In mid-December, the number of solo presidential press conferences this year is just three. When Biden grants a television interview, to Scott Pelley at 60 Minutes or to Nicolle Wallace, you can guess that the interviewers have promised Team Biden that Old Joe won’t get any tough questions.  Instead, they ask him to explain how the Republicans are a dangerous pile of extremists.

Ask something negative, and he gets cranky, like telling Fox’s Peter Doocy “I knew you’d have a lousy question” (because it was about Hunter).  

Alex Thompson at Axios filed a piece quoting White House insiders who say Biden has a “Hunter trigger,” that only longtime aides feel they can withstand the president’s fury or dejection at the subject. Reporters receive the fury when they ask…so he’s told not to answer questions, or announces he has a list, authorized by some authority, of reporters that he's told to call on.

Then consider that as president, Biden has never granted an interview to White House reporters for major newspapers like the New York Times and the Washington Post. (AP reporter Josh Boak muddled through a Pelley/Wallace-style interview.) 

The White House complains about negative coverage, but the Old Media is still overwhelmingly protective. His gaffes are routinely ignored. On December 8, the RNC tweeted out video of the president saying "Over a billion three hundred million trillion three hundred million dollars!" ABC, CBS, and NBC don’t share embarrassing outbursts like those. Even their late-night comedians generally skip those.

Donald Trump runs circles around Biden in granting access to TV and print outlets. Nobody in his circle seems to restrict his access or protect him from outbursts and gaffes. The pro-Biden outlets thrive on his comments, like the “dictator for a day” joke to Sean Hannity.

The media claim they are the guardians of democracy, but they’ve shown zero interest in Biden doing a debate with Rep. Dean Phillips or Marianne Williamson. The public tells pollsters they’d like to see Biden debate. But reporters like to pretend that there are no primary elections for Democrats this time.

When it comes to taking questions, Joe Biden is the Bumper Bowling president. Every bowling ball he throws will score, because no one allows a gutterball. This leaves the impression that Joe Biden’s not running the country as much as other people are running Joe Biden.