Biden is hiding from the press
The White House press corps is in trouble again because President Biden, whom many reporters applauded in last year’s election, repeatedly stiffened them, refusing to answer questions and – more recently – throwing them out of the Oval Office.
Outraged, the White House Correspondents Association lodged a protest with the administration’s communications office, where it will be regularly recognized and ignored.
Given Biden’s successful campaign from the basement of his home in Wilmington, Del., Last year as the country was locked out from the COVID-19 pandemic, his strategists concluded that the same approach could be applied with equally favorable results for the White House. It appears that the president’s senior executives have come to a judgment that it is in his best interests to minimize interactions with reporters. The likelihood of change in the face of media complaints is non-existent.
The risk of offending the press is well worth it when placed next to the possibility of the president getting lost in his message, rambling, forgetting the names of his cabinet officers and foreign leaders , to embark on a rhetorical tangent and tell stories about his various life experiences which his staff must later clarify or go back to. As harsh as it sounds, nervous White House staff think Biden just can’t be trusted if he’s engaged in open trade with reporters.
They have implemented a protective protocol of controlled presidential remarks, usually read from a teleprompter to a sparse audience of reporters or behind the Oval Office desk. On the rare occasions when questions are permitted, Biden recognizes reporters from a list provided by staff, a departure from the hand raising systems followed by previous administrations. Time is limited in these sessions before a member of the communications office staff declares the end.
The strategy is also reflected in the frequency of “no public hours” being mentioned on the daily activity list distributed to reporters and by early morning announcements of a “cover”, meaning that no events worthy of mention. interest is expected.
Make no mistake, the priority obligation of a presidential staff is always towards him. The first rule imposed on them is “protect the client”. The obligation to the media comes second and, if that translates into protection from the media, so be it.
Given Biden’s long history of exaggerations, embellishments, and personal memories that turn out to be a stream of consciousness creations, his staff are hypersensitive to speculation about cognitive decline and a reduced ability to grasp complex issues. domestic or foreign policy.
There is, of course, no obligation for a president to grant regular access to the media or answer questions as part of a public appearance. Rather, it is an expectation that part of the CEO’s job description will use the media as a vital conduit to the American people.
This administration has chosen to limit its exposure, preferring the daily press briefing – often including a cabinet officer, depending on the subject covered – as the least risky method of getting the message across, framing the narrative and satisfying the media’s appetite.
The White House press corps has arguably the most prestigious and coveted missions in journalism, moving daily to the nerve center of US government and global concerns, flying on Air Force One, witness to the history of history. and sharing their views on TV. shows. However, they do not have the possibility of dictating the working conditions or of making requests to the administration whose actions they cover. Play the hand that is dealt to you rather than complaining if you want different cards.
Despite unprecedented changes in the media landscape, some of the most incisive, insightful and analytical commentary is still produced by journalists and broadcasters who use their talents and dedication to unearth information on behalf of the American people. It is their duty to challenge and expose false statements and lies.
Continuing to take on this responsibility will do more to improve their reputation than complaining about not seeing the President as often as they would like.
Carl Golden is a Senior Associate Analyst at the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy at Stockton University in New Jersey. You can reach him at cgolden1937 @ gmail.