Biden fires up media as midterm elections loom

President Joe Biden is complaining about his media coverage as he struggles to break back-to-back negative news cycles ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.

But complaining about the media is unlikely to help Biden or congressional Democrats until November, as Biden’s job endorsement numbers plummet into former President Donald Trump territory.


Biden campaigned, in part, to normalize relations with the press after his predecessor, Trump, called the media “enemies of the people.” But public officials tend to “lash out” at journalists and reporters when they encounter “political turbulence”, according to John Pitney, a former Republican staffer turned professor of politics at Claremont McKenna College.

“In most cases, poor coverage is a symptom of their woes, not the cause,” Pitney told the Washington Examiner.

David Greenberg, professor of history, journalism and media studies at Rutgers University, agreed that negative coverage “is usually a sign that something else is wrong”.

“When an administration – or anyone else – says they have a ‘communications problem’, it usually means they’re not looking hard enough at the real issues,” he said.

Biden seems particularly frustrated with the lack of focus on potentially promising economic data, such as low unemployment rates, affecting consumer confidence. But as Pitney argued, “there is also bad economic news.”

“And the public reacts to that,” he said. “Real disposable income per capita has dropped over the past year. When that happens, the ruling party will be hit in the polls.

And Biden has. The president has an average of 41% approval and 54% disapproval, according FiveThirtyEight. Those numbers are worse than Trump’s at a similar stage in his administration. Moreover, only 22% of poll respondents on average are convinced that Biden is leading the country in the right direction, RealClearPolicies found. Seventy-one percent believe the country is on the wrong track.

Although Biden doesn’t often give taped interviews or call press conferences on American soil, he regularly answers shouted questions, according to the White House. But those exchanges, which frequently take place amid the din of an East Room crowd or the almost deafening Marine One on the South Lawn, rarely include follow-up requests.

The White House has been needled, for example, on why Biden is not holding a press conference at the end of the Summit of the Americas. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has already condemned some Latin American countries at the US-hosted Western Hemisphere rally for violating First Amendment rights at home.

“It would be hard to argue that he didn’t answer many, many questions from the press,” National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said on Air Force One en route to Los Angeles for the confab. “At the end of this, you can be pretty confident that it will show – showcasing America’s raucous democracy in all its wonderful and attractive guises.”

That hasn’t stopped reporters, such as Fox News’ Jacqui Heinrich, from complaining about Biden’s inaccessibility before and after the president’s appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live!

“For the second time this week, the WH will only allow still cameras in a Biden event – no video,” she tweeted, using an abbreviation for the White House. “Tonight only stills for a spray of the Biden/Kimmel recording. Earlier this week, only stills were brought to the South Lawn for her meeting with Sen Murphy – TV was told afterwards,’ she added, shortening the word ‘reunion’.

Biden referenced the issues he’s encountered, conveying to the public what he sees as accomplishments in a rambling response to Kimmel during the president’s second late-night meeting. Biden hasn’t extended that courtesy to a reporter since February, about 100 days ago, despite wanting to travel the country and speak with voters.

“Even with notable exceptions, even very good reporters, they have to get a certain number of clicks on the evening news,” he said. “So instead of asking a question…Anyway, it’s just…It’s all getting sensational.”

Biden’s comments coincide with a West Political Wing newsletter account of what the President believed to be an off-the-record discussion between himself and reporters from Air Force One for a recent trip to the West Coast.

“He spent much of his time with reporters criticizing the quality and tenor of media coverage of his administration,” wrote authors Max Tani and Alex Thompson.

But the news media observations Biden made on Kimmel’s show were “well-reasoned” and amplify comments from some reporters themselves, according to former President Barack Obama’s White House spokesman. , Eric Schultz.


“Writers like Margaret Sullivan, James Fallows, Jonathan Alter, Perry Bacon, Jackie Calmes, Dana Milbank, Ezra Klein have all urged newsrooms to rethink political coverage,” he said. “Journalists would do themselves a favor with more introspection, less defensiveness.”