President Joe Biden criticized the press yet again Wednesday night, saying “everything gets sensationalized” by the media during his appearance on ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”
The 79-year-old president said his administration has done “a lot of major things” in his first 17 months but hasn’t “been able to communicate it.”
“Look how the press has changed,” Biden told host Jimmy 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.”
It was the second time this week the president critiqued media coverage of his administration. The first came during an off-the-record press gaggle aboard Air Force One. Politico’s Alex Thompson and Max Tani report:
(T)he traveling White House press corps was surprised and intrigued when the president dropped by Air Force One’s press section for one such session with them during a recent trip to the West Coast. But Biden wasn’t just there to field questions. He had his own message to deliver. According to multiple people familiar with the off-the-record session, he used much of his time with reporters to criticize the quality and tenor of press coverage of his administration.
Biden’s dissatisfaction is returned by many members of the White House press corps, who feel the administration has been uncharacteristically closed off to press. CNN reported the president has engaged a half-dozen reporters for off-the-record interviews since last fall, including The New York Times’ Thomas Friedman, whose subsequent column included no details about his lunch with Biden aside from the food he ate. Even Friedman colleague David Brooks, who scored a rare, on-record interview with Biden last year, has received “nothing major” in recent months, Brooks told Politico.
“I can’t think of a parallel situation — it’s the fifth president I’ve covered and the first one I haven’t interviewed,” Peter Baker, The New York Times’ chief White House correspondent, told Politico. “They feel neither the obligation nor the opportunity.”
Biden’s chief of staff Ron Klain has taken to Twitter with his frustrations, sharing an op-ed that claims Biden is treated as badly (or worse) by the media as his predecessor. But a study published by Pew Research Center at the 100-day mark of Biden’s presidency showed he received more favorable coverage than Donald Trump did at the same juncture in 2017. Further, most of Biden’s coverage was “centered around his ideology and policy agenda,” whereas Trump’s focused on “his character and leadership.”
Biden also fielded questions from Kimmel about abortion and gun reform. It was his second appearance on a late-night show since taking office, and the first in person.