“It was almost as though the press was afraid to really challenge the President, so as to not prompt a gaffe or cringe-worthy response,” DePauw University professor and media critic Jeffrey McCall told Fox News.
The New York Post’s editorial board scolded reporters who behaved more like activists in a scathing column, Fox News contributor Joe Concha called the press corps a “disgrace,” and Federalist senior editor Mollie Hemingway said it was “inappropriate” for a reporter to claim unaccompanied minors and migrant families are heading for the United States because Biden is a “moral and decent” man.
“It was quite amazing that nobody asked about COVID and just let Biden’s prepared opening remarks suffice. It was good that reporters wanted to talk about the border problems, but they uncritically allowed the President to blame the increased traffic on seasonal factors,” McCall said.
Biden appeared to pick reporters from a pre-determined list and referred to notes as he took questions. While questioners focused heavily on immigration, they also asked about his 2024 reelection prospects while ignoring more pressing issues.
“The press also allowed Biden to claim transparency for inspecting border facilities, but only when his administration is good and ready. They also let him get away with claiming that he wasn’t visiting the border at this time so as to not be a distraction,” McCall added. “At times, the press wasn’t as much questioning Biden as just teeing him up for canned responses on topics that he wanted to address, and for which his staff had prepared notecards.”
While McCall was critical of the questioned posed by reporters, he noticed they managed to largely ditch the negative attitudes often on display during Trump’s administration.
“It was nice, on one hand, that the press acted in a more civil fashion than we’ve seen over the last couple of years. There was basically no interrupting, for example, but there was also very little scrutiny of the President’s sometimes rambling answers,” McCall said.
Conservative strategist Chris Barron said calling some of the questions softball “might be an insult to softballs” after the president waited an unprecedented amount of time to conduct a formal press conference.
“The media’s humiliating performance was entirely intentional – which makes it infinitely worse,” Barron wrote in a column. “The softballs pitched by the approved list of reporters was more embarrassing than could be imagined.”
Not everyone had a problem with Biden’s press conference, as many liberal pundits fawned over the event. MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” continued its infatuation with former President Donald Trump by comparing the tone of his first press conference with Biden’s initial presser.
“You noticed a change of tone, you actually heard somebody that was trying to bring Americans together,” host Joe Scarborough said.
“The change in texture from Trump-era news conferences was impossible to miss,” NBC’s Jonathan Allen wrote.
But most praise was directed at Biden simply because he’s not Trump, not at the reporters who were supposed to ask tough questions.
Liberal Washington Post editor Karen Attiah tweeted, “This press conference is embarrassing, and its not because of Biden.”
Cornell Law School professor and media critic William A. Jacobson felt “a small number of reporters asked good probing questions about the border crisis, and they deserve credit for that,” but they shouldn’t plan on getting the opportunity again anytime soon.
“Given how carefully Biden’s handlers preselect reporters, those quality reporters likely never will be called on again,” Jacobson told Fox News. “The other reporters should have brought pom poms with them as a visual, because they served as cheerleaders for Biden, framing questions made to make him look good.”
Perhaps the reporters who dared to ask tough questions don’t have to worry about not being called on in the future, because McCall feels “there really wasn’t much news generated” during the event so people won’t be clamoring for a follow up.
“Based on this press conference, it might be a while before anybody itches for another one,” McCall said.
Fox News’ David Rutz and Charles Creitz contributed to this report.