I’m painting with a wide brush today, but it needs to be so: Washington journalists suck.
President Joe Biden held his first press conference last week. Of the 10 hand-selected reporters called upon by the president’s handlers, not one asked about the COVID-19 pandemic or the flagging American economy.
That’s malpractice of the first order.
Jonathan Bernstein of Bloomberg news service pointed out that Biden mentioned jobless claims dropping in his opening remarks, but no one followed up on the fact that unemployment rates remain horribly high. He didn’t get a question on the new relief law and no one asked about the trillion dollar infrastructure plan Biden hopes to roll out.
He also received no question on the pandemic, which had to be the No. 1 top-of-mind question of the American people. Yet, apparently not on the minds of the Washington press corps.
And Joe Concha of The Hill website pointed out that the president — unlike his predecessor — was lightly fact checked after the conference.
For example, Biden claimed there are massive numbers of unaccompanied children in custody at the border because, unlike the Trump Administration, he won’t let kids starve to death at the border. No, there were no deaths at the border by starvation. Yet, no one called Biden a liar for saying so.
Biden also tried to pass off the unprecedented number of children at the border since he took over as normal. He said the numbers were relatively the same under Trump.
That is a lie of the first order. According to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, authorities came into contact with 9,457 children without a parent in February alone. That’s a 61 percent increase from January. Overall, border officials say the U.S. will take in more than 17,000 minors this month alone. That is unprecedented. Yet, the New York Times, et al, let this canard slide as a legit answer.
Look, here’s the rub: The national press corps has gone from a junk-yard watchdog with the former president to a sleepy labradoodle with the current president. That’s a bad deal all the way around.
It’s clear to me that President Biden can’t get through a press conference without making sure he only gets questions from friendly reporters. He couldn’t even answer a single foreign policy question without reading off note cards. I don’t think I’ve seen anything quite like the president’s — and the Washington media’s — dismal performance last week.
No pandemic questions? No follow-up on the economy? A cheat sheet to read off “answers” about U.S. policy on China?
ONE MORE THING
— I’ve never seen anyone jogging and smiling, so that’s all I need to know about that.
— If you see me jogging, please kill whatever is chasing me.
— Synonym: (Noun) A word used in place of a word you cannot spell.
— Only in math problems can you buy 60 cantaloupes and no one asks “What’s wrong with you?”
And with that, post-COVID people, I’ll pick up my knitting and let myself out. Be kind to all that you meet.
(Sherman R. Frederick is the founder of Battle Born Media, a newspaper company dedicated to the preservation of community newspapers. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)