Biden hiding from the press

  • Saturday, October 9, 2021 1:30am
  • Opinion

The White House press corps is in a snit again because President Biden, who many reporters cheered on in last year’s election, has stiffed them repeatedly, refusing to answer questions and – most recently – tossing them out of the Oval Office.

Indignant, the White House Correspondents Association filed a protest with the administration’s communications office, where it will be routinely acknowledged and ignored.

Given Biden’s successful campaigning from the basement of his home in Wilmington, Del., last year while the nation was in the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, his strategists concluded the same approach could be applied with equally favorable results in the White House. It appears the president’s senior staff reached a judgment that minimizing interactions with reporters is in his best interest. The likelihood of change in the face of media complaints is nonexistent.

The risk of offending the press corps is worth it when placed next to the possibility of the president straying off message, rambling, forgetting names of his cabinet officers and foreign leaders, careening off on a rhetorical tangent and telling tales about his various life experiences that his staff later must clarify or walk back. As harsh as it may sound, a nervous White House staff believes Biden simply cannot be trusted if engaged in freewheeling exchanges with reporters.

They’ve implemented a protective protocol of controlled presidential remarks, usually read from a teleprompter to a sparse audience of reporters or from behind the Oval Office desk. On those infrequent occasions when questions are permitted, Biden recognizes reporters from a staff supplied list, a departure from the raise your hand systems followed by previous administrations. The time is limited in these sessions before a communications office staffer declares it at an end.

The strategy is reflected also in the frequency of the “no public schedule” notation on the daily list of activities distributed to reporters and by the early in the day announcements of a “lid,” meaning no newsworthy events are planned.

Make no mistake, the priority obligation of a presidential staff is always to him. The first rule drilled into them is “protect the client.” The obligation to the media comes second and, if that translates into shielding him from the media, so be it.

Given Biden’s long history of exaggerations, embellishments and personal reminisces that turn out to be stream of consciousness creations, his staff is hyper-sensitive to speculation about a cognitive decline and a diminished ability to grasp complex domestic or foreign policy issues.

There is, of course, no requirement for a president to grant regular access to the media or respond to questions as part of a public appearance. It is rather an expectation that part of the chief executive’s job description is utilizing the media as a vital conduit to the American people.

This administration has chosen to limit his exposure, preferring the daily press briefing – often including a cabinet officer, depending on the issue at hand – as the less risky method of delivering the message, framing the narrative and satisfying the media’s appetite.

The White House press corps has arguably the most prestigious and coveted assignments in journalism, spending every day at the nerve center of American government and global concerns, flying on Air Force One, witnessing history in the making and sharing their views on TV talk and panel shows. They don’t, however, get to dictate working conditions or make demands on the Administration whose actions they cover. Play the hand you’re dealt rather than whine you want different cards.

Despite unprecedented changes in the media landscape, some of the most incisive, insightful and analytical commentary is still produced by reporters and broadcasters who use their talents and dedication to ferret out information on behalf of the American people. It is their duty to challenge misrepresentations and falsehoods and expose them.

Continuing to meet that responsibility will do more to enhance their reputation than complaining they don’t see the president as often as they’d like.

Carl Golden is a senior contributing analyst with the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy at Stockton University in New Jersey. You can reach him at cgolden1937@gmail.

More in Opinion

Malls fade into history due to online shopping

My buddies Ayres and Klinger and I walked its crowded corridors for… Continue reading

Hot glue gun just 1 issue with dreaded school projects

Raising three daughters has come with many delights, challenges, prayers and moments… Continue reading

SNL’s Biden not ready for prime time

Whatever problems the real President Biden faces with polls and policies, they… Continue reading

Leaving leaves alone is good for the environment

If you don’t like my opinions this week, you can take a… Continue reading

COVID has helped remind us life is short

The Lyft driver pulled up to the curb at Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport.… Continue reading

Millions ofreasons toinvestigate

Help us understand. If someone broke into your house and took let’s… Continue reading

Biden hiding from the press

The White House press corps is in a snit again because President… Continue reading

We didn’t have to eat Kix when Clinton was in office

Inever parted with a $20 bill faster. It happened at one of… Continue reading

Feminists: Heart, brain are what truly matter

Iwas a Republican, and I was a Democrat, and I was an… Continue reading

Most Read