By Tim Graham
Reporters and columnists from pro-Biden news outlets are very slow to lament Team Biden’s strategy to keep the president away from almost all interviewers and shun press conferences. Fox News media reporter Joseph Wulfsohn reported on Sunday morning that New York Times White House reporter Zolan Kanno-Youngs — a regular TV presence on shows like CNN’s Inside Politics — complained at the liberal Texas Tribune Festival in Austin that the president is limited to “friendly talk show hosts.”
This is obvious. But they hesitate to admit it. They would never dream of punishing the president for it with rougher reporting.
Kanno-Youngs tiptoed around the point. He noted the Trump White House didn’t always have daily press briefings, and Team Biden tried to restore them. (Trump briefings were much rougher than the typical patty-cake with Karine Jean-Pierre. For example, no reporter ever asserted Biden killed tens of thousands of people with Covid.)
Biden may have a “different measure” when it comes to transparency, he said, but he asserted Biden has only granted one interview to a print outlet, apparently the infamous Associated Press piffle with Josh Boak in June 2022. Biden also granted one with Times opinion columnist David Brooks and one with then-Atlantic correspondent Edward-Isaac Dovere. They’re not “talk show hosts,” but they certainly qualify as “friendly.”
“They pretty much made it clear that I don’t think they – they see that they may be meeting that standard by putting the president up for interviews with, I would say, friendly talk show hosts and maybe getting their message out on social media,” Kanno-Youngs said.
He continued, “Their kind of priority is going to get their message out for the agenda and to galvanize voters. Our priority is going to be to ask them tough questions and hold them to account. And I think there’s still value in putting a president up against a reporter from any of our outlets. And if you don’t, you know, if you create a void of information, other people are going to fill it with their assumptions, which I think is factored in a bit into questions over whether this is actually a strategy, whether this is potentially protecting him away from reporters.”
It’s obvious to everyone that avoiding the press is a Biden strategy, and that they avoid Biden interviews because he’s perpetually in danger of a typical gaffe, of getting irrationally angry over being challenged, or displaying his tender age. Wulfsohn noted that Biden never took a question about his son Hunter and influence-peddling this summer in softball interviews with MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace, CNN’s Fareed Zakaria and Stephanie Abrams of The Weather Channel.
It’s far less obvious that pro-Biden reporters have “tough questions” as a priority. See the AP piffle, with Boak asking supine questions like “I’m really interested in how you’re thinking and how you’re making choices during what seems like a really unique time in American history.” A junior-high reporter could do better than that.