It is now very clear, if it wasn’t already, that the current occupant of the White House is particularly thin-skinned. As the Afghanistan debacle finally seems to have the press prioritizing news over politics, Joe Biden’s aides and political allies have been expressing frustration with media organizations for daring to challenge the chief executive.
While his predecessor made himself more accessible to the media than perhaps any president in modern history, Biden has answered very few reporters’ questions since he took office in January – and rarely has he responded to a question that wasn’t pre-approved by his staff and for which he already had a scripted answer.
As CNN notes, Former Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump had given 133 and 50 media interviews, respectively, at this point in their presidencies. It should be noted, in fairness to the latter, that he made countless unplanned appearances before reporters. Rarely did Trump board Marine One without first answering a barrage of questions – doing the same when he arrived at his destination. In contrast, Biden has granted just nine interviews.
Trump was an outspoken and sometimes unfiltered media critic but only occasionally did he react to reporters with genuine anger. This is especially notable considering most left-leaning journalists – which means most journalists – displayed extremely combative attitudes toward the 45th president and were far more interested in attempting to trip him up or catch him out than they were in truth and objectivity.
In Biden’s case, however, any challenge or hint of criticism evokes an immediate and visible flash of anger. Even the most rudimentary psychological analysis of such behavior leads to the obvious conclusion that Uncle Joe’s defensiveness is born either of his awareness that he is not telling the truth or fear that his knowledge of the issue in question will not hold up to cross examination.
How Dare They!
One great example of how the people around Biden view the media is a recent lament from Eric Schultz, an Obama-era deputy White House press secretary, over news coverage of the unfolding Afghanistan debacle. “The media tends to bend over backwards to ‘both-sides’ all of their coverage, but they made an exception for this,” Schultz remarked. Notwithstanding the curious turn of phrase, the observation itself is a distortion of the truth. “They both-sides coverage [sic] over masks, and vaccines, and school openings and everything else,” Schultz continued. “Somehow [the Afghanistan withdrawal] created a rush to judgment and a frenzy that we haven’t seen in a long time.”
One might perhaps consider it typical of a Democrat to credit the press with “both sides” coverage of an issue when that coverage is in fact distinctly one-sided. The left-leaning legacy media has constantly advocated for mask-wearing and even mask mandates while dismissing those who question the efficacy of masks as selfish and irresponsible. Likewise, most news outlets have not only championed the COVID-19 vaccines, but have labeled any studies or statements that raise questions about the said vaccines as “misinformation.” Outside of the conservative media, there has been an almost complete lack of “both sides” coverage.
Going Easy on Biden
When it comes to reporting Afghanistan, only a few left-wing journalists have been harsh in their judgment of the Biden administration’s handling of the situation. There has been no “rush to judgment” and certainly no “frenzy.” Events unfolding in Kabul and elsewhere in the South Asian country are dire, chaotic, and for many Afghans – not to mention Americans and other foreigners stranded in that country – extremely dangerous. To their credit, many left-wing news outlets have not shied away from telling it like it is.
That said, the media is not excoriating Biden, questioning his competency, or outright insulting him, as they doubtless would be Donald Trump, were he presiding over this disaster. All things considered, the haphazard withdrawal from Afghanistan is a more far-reaching and, in terms of the human toll, a more lethal blunder than Benghazi, the Iranian hostage crisis, Iran-Contra, or the Bay of Pigs. So far, Mr. Biden has gotten off pretty easy.
But, of course, Democrats have come to expect friendly, supportive, and unquestioning media coverage. It must come as a shock to them to see reporters bringing actual news to the American people – even when that news is not at all helpful to a Democrat in the Oval Office.
Read more from Graham J. Noble.