At the national joke that some people in Washington still call the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, someone finally pointed out that President Joe Biden never takes genuine questions from actual reporters and hides from any kind of journalistic accountability. Unfortunately, the person pointing it out was Biden himself, and he showed zero remorse for his abysmal record of taking “zero questions” from reporters. Instead, he cracked a joke about it. Worse, the supposed journalists in attendance gleefully giggled along.
“In a lot of ways, this dinner sums up my first two years in office,” the president quipped Saturday night. “I’ll talk for 10 minutes, take zero questions, and cheerfully walk away.”
The joke’s on the American people, and the corporate media are in on it. If Biden’s predecessor had cracked the same line, it would have launched a thousand think pieces proclaiming Trump’s hatred for press freedoms. But since the propagandists who fill seats at the Correspondents’ Dinner and in the White House briefing room make their living by running cover for Democrats like Biden, they couldn’t see the obvious irony: a room full of people tasked with asking tough questions of the president, laughing as he boasts about not answering their questions at all.
The quip comes on the heels of last week’s scandalous revelation that Biden not only possesses a cheat sheet of which “friendly” reporters to call upon during press briefings, but also appears to have prior access to the exact questions they plan to ask.
During a press conference Biden shared with the South Korean president, a photographer snapped a photo of a cue card in Biden’s hand that listed the name, outlet, photo, and question of Los Angeles Times reporter Courtney Subramanian. “How are YOU squaring YOUR domestic priorities — like reshoring semiconductors manufacturing — with alliance-based foreign policy?” the card read. With a system like this, Biden staffers could pre-write an answer for him to rattle off onstage, perpetuating the facade of a good-faith interaction between the press and an accountable president.
Biden’s occasional press conferences are typically brief and scripted, and he’s also simply held fewer of them than his recent predecessors: 54 in his first two years, compared to 202 by Trump and 275 by Barack Obama in the same time frame. Even The New York Times admitted the aging Biden “has taken steps to reduce opportunities for journalists to question him in forums where he can offer unscripted answers and they can follow up” — before using the very next paragraph to remind readers why Biden doesn’t hate press freedom as the bad orange man did.
In his tone-deaf speech Saturday night, Biden waxed poetic about journalistic freedoms and the First Amendment’s guarantee of a free press. But as celebrities nodded along to his clichés, he was celebrating the ouster of perhaps his most popular critic in media, Tucker Carlson.
He was also bragging about his incessant avoidance of meaningful interactions with genuine reporters. Remarkably, no one in the room seemed to care. Then again, his joke was a mockery of a free press — so I guess it didn’t apply to them.