This latest episode reveals so much about Biden and the media.
Right out of the gate, I need to fend off any potential response by saying I am not at all bothered, upset, offended, or otherwise affected by the fact Joe Biden used the invective “Son of a bitch” towards Fox News White House correspondent Peter Doocy. To pretend there is nothing coarse in politics or the media is foolish. When I first saw the video of the exchange I chuckled and stated, “Hoo boy, it must be nap time.”
But there is the fact that we have been told that this is the very sort of thing we are supposed to care about, because politicians and the press have made these unscripted and irreverent moments into bigger issues. Remember, we have been told this type of behavior is improper and that Biden would be ushering in a new era of decorum and decency towards the media. But the journalism experts largely give Biden a pass on this.
Some have said Doocy deserved this scorn, because of his irascible questioning. Let us take a moment and recall that the far more antagonistic Jim Acosta was often hailed in the years he covered Trump. But complaining about Doocy here is wrong-headed because he asked a question about the problem of inflation at a presser for a meeting about – Inflation, competition, and prices.
The curiosity behind Biden’s lashing out is that Peter Doocy was doing precisely not only what White House reporters are supposed to do, but he did specifically what Biden requested just moments earlier. Just prior to Doocy’s question, Biden refused to answer a question concerning Ukraine, because, as he explained, he said the coverage would then not be about the meeting’s purpose. So, Doocy asked his inflation question, and Joe promptly lost his cool.
But, here is where the real curiosity rests. Yes, Trump lashed out far more than Biden, but this was due to Trump and the press having a contemptuous relationship. Biden, on the other side, has far less of a reason, as he has a mostly fawning media surrounding him. Look at how they swooned over his ice cream selections. Yet, he has this tendency to lash out when he gets slightly uncomfortable as a result of a reporter who veers off the script provided by the White House.
CNN media custodian Brian Stelter initially reported on Biden’s outburst with something akin to a shrug. He just commented on the exchange, but then a torrent of people pointed out how Stelter took a far more stern approach when Donald Trump used the same phrase towards a reporter. Three hours later, Brian had to address his double standard, while still offering context on why it was not that bad.
One of the funnier things to see in the wake of this exchange were those who were certain Fox would make this into a week-long shriek-fest, and instead, Doocy and others at his network have only been joking about it and having fun. It is a great lesson in how to address and diffuse a non-important controversy, and it has even bothered one galaxy brain at Media Matters For America. Andrew Lawrence seems off-balance in how to react when he sees Doocy and Jesse Watters not losing their collective minds over the episode.
wow they look furious about this pic.twitter.com/6BEGqtInlx
— Andrew Lawrence (@ndrew_lawrence) January 24, 2022
My read is that Lawrence had a long piece all set to be published about Fox and all the hypocrisy of them condemning Biden, after sitting by as Trump raged at the press for four years. But then they went ahead and ruined things by not becoming hysterical over it. The thing is, the press expected that very reaction from Fox because that is precisely how the press reacted any time Trump dared berate the media.
Look at this analysis from Brian Stelter, as he appeared on the CNN morning show:
CNN's @brianstelter on Biden's "stupid SOB" moment yesterday: "It's wrong no matter what."
But, he says, "It's also not the biggest story in the world. That's why I'm glad you didn't lead with it. It's not the most important thing in the world. We know Fox is gonna milk it." pic.twitter.com/FHW0c9fgio
— The Recount (@therecount) January 25, 2022
And after Fox spent last night having fun over things with Peter Doocy, now look at what Brian had to admit was the reaction from that network’s morning crew.
"Proud father Steve also confirmed that his son took no offense to the insult, saying he's a 'big boy.'" https://t.co/PGM8596F2x
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) January 25, 2022
Recall, the journalists during Trump’s era maintained that his combative stance with the press was going to lead to reporters becoming endangered. Many in the press today are giving Biden a pass, declaring this a rare moment of intemperance when Donald Trump made lashing out at the media a quotidian act. This is undeniable, but it tends to conveniently ignore a related reality; the press was hardly passive players who were unfairly picked on by a mean President. The press had been openly antagonistic towards Trump as well.
Lest we forget, his four years were filled with false reports, claimed bombshells that never delivered fireworks, and continuous comparisons to Hitler and Nazis. The press was hardly innocent bystanders unfairly smeared by a crude President.
But we are in a new era. We have a professional in the White House, the media can do their jobs properly, and the nation will recover as it needs to as a result. Today everything is different — except the President still lashes out at the media.