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Tipsheet

Oh, So This Is Why Biden's Upset with Reporters

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

President Biden, as a Democrat, already enjoys a level of deference from the mainstream media that Republicans have never known, but his multiple crises have seen even reliable lapdogs run some critical stories about the president's flailing agenda and his administration's often-disarrayed status. Throughout all his failings, Biden has rarely interacted with the press — much less than his two predecessors Trump and Obama. 

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Biden often refuses to take reporters' questions following speeches, rarely does sit-down interviews, and doesn't even have much of an off-the-record relationship with mainstream outlets that even Trump maintained. Despite his failure to build relationships with the press, Biden seems to think they owe him something — positive coverage of his scrambling attempts to spin bad news into reality denying positives — according to reporting this week from POLITICO. 

Apparently, on Air Force One while traveling to Los Angeles for the Summit of the Americas, Biden paid the press cabin a visit for an off-record conversation that turned into little more than a scolding from the president. As POLITICO reported, "much of his time with reporters" while enroute was used "to criticize the quality and tenor of press coverage of his administration." Sure, Joe. 

Per POLITICO:

There is growing frustration by the president and his family that he is not receiving the kind of generally more positive coverage they believe he deserves — that too often attention is focused on staff turnover and poor poll numbers and not a robust jobs market and America’s relatively strong economic recovery.

In addition to privately pushing reporters, the president and his team are also trying new tactics to change the prevailing storylines. Among them is an attempt to reframe the narrative around issues like inflation. His team published opinion pieces in The New York Times and Wall Street Journal in recent days under the president’s byline, attempting to share his foreign policy vision and path to lowering costs for consumers.

The White House has also recently leaned into the use of celebrities to help carry its message. Visits from Korean pop group BTS and Oscar-winning actor MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY have resulted in major boosts in earned media. Within minutes, a late-night video of the president and BTS discussing recent violence against Asians was one of the president’s top performing posts, and McConaughey’s emotional plea in the White House briefing room for measures to reduce gun violence similarly received millions of views on YouTube. On Wednesday, the president will stop by “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” for his second appearance on a late-night show since taking office and his first one in-person.

But that taped interview also spotlights just how few he’s actually given.

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Whether the lack of one-on-one interviews and more intimate conversations are a Biden decision or one made by his handlers — the same ones who created a fake White House set in an adjacent auditorium in order to have a permanently installed teleprompter in an often unsuccessful attempt to prevent gaffes — it's clear that it's not working. 

Biden is simultaneously refusing to have an open line of communication with the media, and then mad at the media when they write stories based on other sources. The president apparently expects to be able to have it both ways: glowing coverage of his job performance while not having to put himself in the hot seat to answer questions about his growing list of failures and crises. 

Instead of talking to reporters, Biden assumes his party affiliation and celebrity surrogates will get him puff pieces and favorable coverage, something that would depend on the media ignoring his approval rating that's lower than Trump's was at this point, 40-year high inflation, record-setting gas prices, and disastrous performances on the world stage. 

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