President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin held a virtual meeting/call today over the escalating tensions between Russia and Ukraine, a call brought on by U.S. intelligence reports that suggest Russia is preparing to amass 175,000 troops at the border in a matter of a few months.
U.S. officials said prior to the call that “Biden will tell Putin that Russia and its banks could be hit with the toughest economic sanctions yet if it invades Ukraine.”
Details of the call have not yet been released, but my RedState colleague Bill Robinson speculated here as to what might have been discussed and what it would mean not just for Ukraine but other countries in the region depending on how seriously (or not) Putin took Biden’s alleged sanctions threats.
Though it’s understandable that calls of such a sensitive nature between world leaders are not broadcast in full for the everyone to hear, one would think that in the interest of transparency the American press would get to document at least the start of it, if for no other reason to snag a quick video and a few photos as well as to get a general idea as to the moods of those participating on the call before the muscle-flexing and head-butting begins.
But that didn’t happen today. At least not with the American press. Unbelievably (or entirely believable considering the Biden administration’s open hostility to what typically has been a friendly-to-Biden/Dems press corps), the first glimpse the American people got of the call came through not anyone with the U.S. press but instead Russian state TV.
Note the wording on the screen. We don’t need a translator (nor a CNN reporter) to tell us this was not an American broadcast:
Russian state TV shows start of meeting between Biden and Putin pic.twitter.com/pX1GqefSty
— Kevin Liptak (@Kevinliptakcnn) December 7, 2021
And just why is it that we didn’t get the U.S. media’s view of the early moments of the call? Because the Biden White House didn’t allow it:
"I hope next time we can meet in person," President Biden can be heard telling Putin on their video call.
Russia allowed state media in for a short video spray of the first few moments of the call – the White House did not allow American press any access. https://t.co/KcBZwHdFQK
— Jacqui Heinrich (@JacquiHeinrich) December 7, 2021
This is so frickety friggin’ pathetic and embarrassing not just to me as a media analyst but also as an American citizen, so much so that I’m almost at a loss for words not. Almost but not quite.
It reminds me of the story from a few weeks ago where the Biden White House canceled the scheduled, traditional “Three Amigos” presser with the leaders of Canada and Mexico out of an abundance of caution because Biden made a series of blunders in the span of 24 hours earlier that week that had staffers behind the scenes struggling to correct the record.
What made that situation even worse was that on the day the three North American leaders met, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau actually scheduled his own presser with the Canadian press. Joe Biden did not do the same with the American press. So we had to learn details of their discussion from the leader of another country, not our own.
As I said at the time, we shouldn’t have to find out what happened (or get the general idea of what will happen) during a Biden event from the leaders of the countries that participated in the event, nor their media outlets (state-run or otherwise). We should be able to find out directly from our media and the White House, specifically the President of the United States himself, even if it’s just a few brief words.
Let’s also not forget the cringe-inducing moment from a public appearance Biden made at the White House with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson in September where Johnson actually took questions from UK reporters and Biden’s handlers proceeded to cut Johnson off so the American press wouldn’t get the idea they could ask Biden some questions, too. When asked about the awkward moment later during a press briefing, press secretary Jen Psaki actually had the nerve to blame Johnson and his staff for not “alerting” the White House that that’s what he was going to do.
And in a similar incident a few days later, Biden actually urged India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi not to take questions from the American press because, in Biden’s words, the Indian press were “much better behaved” and the American press “won’t ask any questions on point.”
For all the whining from the media about Trump’s dislike of the press, at least he was honest about it. With the Biden administration, you get platitudes about “respecting and valuing” the freedom of the press while they simultaneously slap them in the faces and activate their media avoidance strategies as often as possible so as to avoid another Biden gaffe. This is, of course, not normal at all, but you probably already knew that.
We criticize the American media here often but it’s because of their liberal biases, not their existence. The press is there for a reason – to report the news and to hold the powerful accountable. The First Amendment guarantees their right to do so. That the President of the United States continues to turn his back on that hallmark fundamental of what makes this country great while leaders of countries with much less freedom in terms of press access embarrass him by at the very least giving off the impression of being transparent should not be lost on anyone.