This struck me as funny. Washington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan has a piece up today trying to lay some groundwork for President Biden’s first press conference this Thursday. She’s worried that the media is going into this thing with the wrong attitude, i.e. trying to prove they can be just as tough on Biden as they were on Trump.
Joe Lockhart, a press secretary under President Bill Clinton, fears the press corps won’t be able to resist walking in with the mentality of, “We’re gonna show all the MAGA people we can be just as tough on Biden as we were on Trump.”…
The burgeoning number of migrants — including thousands of children — is a legitimate concern and a valid story. But much of the news media seems to be using it to show that they intend to present Biden in just as critical a light as they often did Trump — regardless of whether that’s deserved.
Of course, the administration hasn’t helped this dynamic by refusing news media access to government detention facilities.
As as seasoned photojournalist pointed out yesterday, the Biden administration’s refusal to allow reporters to cover the border crisis is unprecedented and unjustifiable. Even when this was a massive negative story for the Trump administration in 2018, the still didn’t do what the Biden administration is doing. You’d really have to be pretty foolish to assume the point of prohibiting such photos isn’t to prevent this from becoming a negative story. So the idea that maybe the Biden admin. might not deserve tough questions at this moment is pretty astounding, especially coming from a media columnist offering advice.
But that’s not the worst part of Sullivan’s take. The worst part is this astoundingly tone-deaf paragraph:
Wait, you’re saying the media might try to get in front of the cameras and grandstand over immigration? I would never have known that. Oh, wait…
For the White House press corps, there’s also a temptation to play to the crowd. Every TV reporter has to be thinking about the 10-second clip of their question that might be used on Thursday’s newscast, establishing them as the star du jour who bravely challenged the president.
That’s CNN’s Jim Acosta in February, 2019 arguing that President Trump was “concocting” a national emergency at the border. Those talking points expired about a month later and less than three months later even the NY Times would admit there was a clear crisis at the border.
I’ve heard that a lot of people insinuate that even folks on the left found the Jim Acosta show exhausting. So, who knows, maybe that’s who Margaret Sullivan has in mind when she’s talking about reporters who are trying to make themselves the “star du jour” through their questioning. If so, she should just name him and stop being vague about it.