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In the aftermath of the Trump media frenzy, reporters are struggling to adapt to a new president who doesn’t offer as many headline-worthy statements as his predecessor
For years, it seemed that the media frenzy surrounding former President Donald Trump would never subside. But now with Joe Biden as President, and the same pressing issues at the forefront of our minds, it seemed logical to believe that political news coverage would generally go back to existing as a more informative medium, rather than what Salon magazine referred to as “years of relentless reality show antics.” Since this transition seems as if it has yet to occur, why is it that the media obsession surrounding our former president hasn’t overlapped with the coverage of current President Joe Biden?
The Washington Post’s editorial board spoke up last month about Biden’s lack of news conferences, stating that “Avoiding news conferences must not become a regular habit for Mr. Biden. He is the president, and Americans have every right to expect that he will regularly submit himself to substantial questioning.”
The Post did remark, however, that Biden “has shown galaxies more respect for the free press and the people’s right to know than his predecessor did,” and has reinstated daily news briefings, which are purely informative meetings led by senior staff members. If this is the case, what’s the major issue here?
Jonathan Karl of ABC stated that “reporters like press conferences and will always demand them.” Yet, he also said that “press conferences are for the public’s benefit,” and not necessarily for journalists. Many believe that the demand for more press conferences is motivated by Biden’s temperate on-camera nature, which could be portrayed as “boring” in the eyes of the press. However, it could also be due to the fact that the press and the people are hungry for a juicer storyline with a bit of salacious information—something that Biden has worked hard to avoid.
President Biden’s first news conference on March 25 could be summarized with one quote from the president: “I want to get things done.” Press coverage of the event by Gary Abernathy of the Washington Post featured a somewhat cynical undertone, as he remarked that Biden “steadfastly insisted” he would first address America’s infrastructure, “despite shinier objects like election reform or gun control.”
Abernathy pointed out Biden’s avoidance of calling on Peter Doocy of Fox News, “who might have asked him something more interesting and even controversial.” In the last remarks of his story, the reporter stated that the long awaited press conference was “pretty dry and boring,” and that our president will be fine “if he does it only once in a blue moon.”
Where does this leave President Biden and reporters? The answer seems relatively clear: reporters want more controversial statements to keep ratings up and generate ad revenue. Biden, on the other hand, is focused on the work he intends to do behind the scenes.
Jasmine Campos, a journalism student at Azusa Pacific and the news editor at ZU Media, shared her thoughts on the issue.
“We do not talk about President Biden anymore because his faults are not as advantageous to the media as President Trump’s once were,” she stated. “That being said, the President was not supposed to be as present in American lives as President Trump once was, so maybe that will be a positive lasting development from this administration.”
In terms of Biden not publicly addressing the nation until March, Campos said she is “disheartened” by it.
“We missed the address to a joint Congress this year and I believe it speaks volumes to our enemies abroad,” she said. “I do not think the presidency should be a reality show, but I do not believe everything should be done in secret either. There is a happy medium, and I hope President Biden finds it soon.”
If any other past president besides Trump had been Biden’s predecessor, it is unlikely that his so-called “boring” demeanor and lack of communication with the public would have resulted in this much of a stir. Alas, the media has grown accustomed to newsworthy headlines being handed to them on a daily basis, straight from the mouth (or Twitter feed) of the president himself. News outlets must now adjust to a much more difficult job: reporting on U.S. politics without the support of click-bait headlines.