Biden believes press coverage of him is ‘sensationalized’ for clicks


Biden’s anger at unfavorable PRESS coverage: President believes focus is too much on dire polls and it’s ‘sensationalized’ for clicks – after telling media he was joking about thinking ‘there’s a fire’ when people stand when he walks into a room

  • President Joe Biden recently voiced his displeasure to reporters traveling with him on what he sees as the ‘quality and tenor of press coverage’ 
  • On Wednesday, Politico reported on an off-the-record chat Biden had with journalists on board Air Force One
  • He said reporters were too focused on his low poll numbers and not the country’s economic recovery 
  • Biden’s frustrations were apparent in comments he made during his trip to Los Angeles for this week’s Summit of the Americas 
  • ‘Press that was a joke. That was a joke,’ Biden said after telling CEOS: ‘I’ve only been president for a year and a half but every time I walk in a room and everybody stands up I think there may be a fire or something’ 
  • He told Jimmy Kimmel Wednesday that ‘even the really good reporters’ are trying to get ‘clicks’ – so everything gets ‘sensationalized’ 

President Joe Biden recently voiced his displeasure to reporters traveling with him on what he sees as the ‘quality and tenor of press coverage,’ which he said was too focused on his low poll numbers and not the country’s economic recovery.

On Wednesday, Politico reported on an off-the-record chat Biden had with journalists on board Air Force One while traveling out west, where he voiced these frustrations. 

But they were apparent, too, in comments he made during his trip to Los Angeles for this week’s Summit of the Americas.

On Thursday, he called out the press for taking him too literally and seriously – after talking about how ‘sensationalized’ the coverage has become to late-night host Jimmy Kimmel Wednesday. 

‘I’ve only been president for a year and a half but every time I walk in a room and everybody stands up I think there may be a fire or something,’ he told a roomful of. CEOs to kick off his second day at the conference of North, Central and South American leaders. 

‘Press that was a joke,’ he said. ‘That was a joke.’ 

President Joe Biden (left) has been complaining about his press coverage. During an interview Wednesday with Jimmy Kimmel (right) he told the host: 'even the really good reporters' are trying to get 'clicks' so everything gets 'sensationalized'

President Joe Biden (left) has been complaining about his press coverage. During an interview Wednesday with Jimmy Kimmel (right) he told the host: ‘even the really good reporters’ are trying to get ‘clicks’ so everything gets ‘sensationalized’ 

'Press that was a joke. That was a joke,' President Joe Biden said to reporters Thursday after he told an audience of CEOS: 'I've only been president for a year and a half but every time I walk in a room and everybody stands up I think there may be a fire or something'

‘Press that was a joke. That was a joke,’ President Joe Biden said to reporters Thursday after he told an audience of CEOS: ‘I’ve only been president for a year and a half but every time I walk in a room and everybody stands up I think there may be a fire or something’

On his Wednesday night appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, which he pretaped earlier Wednesday upon his arrival in Los Angeles, Biden talked about the media’s treatment of him as well. 

‘Look how the press has changed,’ Biden told Kimmel. 

‘With notable exceptions, even the really good reporters, they have to get a number of clicks on nightly news. So instead of asking a question – anyway, it’s just everything gets sensationalized,’ the president added. ‘But I’m convinced we can get through this.’

Kimmel voiced his own frustrations on how things were going, asking Biden why it was so hard to make progress on issues like gun control, climate change and abortion rights. 

‘What a terrible job you have,’  the late-night show host told the president. ‘I’m glad you’re doing it. But, boy oh boy, does this seem like a bad gig.’

Kimmel pleaded with Biden to ‘start yelling at people.’ 

Biden’s appearance with Kimmel rounded out two weeks of using pop culture figures to round out his message. 

On May 31, K-pop band BTS held court in the press briefing room and then spent time with the president, denouncing the wave of anti-Asian hate crimes that ticked up during the coronavirus pandemic. 

And then on Tuesday, actor Matthew McConaughey delivered a message from the White House podium to lawmakers to toughen up gun laws after spending days with the victims’ families of the Uvalde, Texas mass elementary school shooting. 

McConaughey grew up in the Texas town. 

At the same time, Biden has eschewed more typical meetings with the press. 

There’s no press conference this week to mark the conclusion of the Summit of the Americas. 

National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan pushed back when a reporter on board Air Force One Wednesday asked what it said about democracy and the White House’s commitment to the freedom of the press by not scheduling a formal Q&A with the president. 

‘I think it would be hard to argue that he hasn’t taken many, many questions from the press,’ Sullivan said. ‘He’ll be, over the course of the next three days, obviously in front of and addressing the press in various ways.’

‘And I think by the end of this you can be pretty confident that he will be displaying – putting on full display – America’s raucous democracy and all of its wonderful and attractive forms,’ Sullivan continued. ‘I don’t see the kind of formal press conference issue as a particular litmus test.’

By Thursday afternoon, Biden had taken just one question from reporters, answering, ‘no,’ when asked if he was concerned that some leaders had boycotted the U.S.-hosted summit over his refusal to invite three authoriatrian leaders from the western hemisphere.

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