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'Wild thing to see WaPo actively root against itself': Margaret Sullivan and Jennifer Rubin tell WH press corps not to ask Joe Biden uncomfortable questions

Yesterday, the Washington Post published a piece by media columnist Margaret Sullivan arguing that the White House press corps needs to check themselves before they try and get too tough on Joe Biden on issues like immigration at his first news conference tomorrow:


Sullivan writes:

But when President Biden steps to the lectern Thursday, the pressure will also be on the White House press corps themselves, as reporters recalibrate after the tumultuous, misinformation-filled years of Donald Trump to a president who is far less showy and, to date, much more truthful.

It’s a major test for news organizations and reporters in covering Biden.

And Joe Lockhart, a press secretary under President Bill Clinton, fears the press corps won’t be able to resist walking in with the mentality of, “We’re gonna show all the MAGA people we can be just as tough on Biden as we were on Trump.”

Yeah, if there’s one thing journalists should avoid, it’s demonstrating that they’re serious about journalism. Wouldn’t want to kowtow to all the MAGA people!

Well, apparently these days, journalists getting back on the job means letting the White House dictate how they do their jobs.


Here’s Sullivan’s WaPo colleague Jennifer Rubin basically making that argument:

To a journalist like Jennifer Rubin, journalism means never having to say you’re sorry — because you don’t ask questions that might make a Democratic administration uncomfortable.

Rubin writes:

But it also seems that reporters have not yet adjusted to the post-45th-president era. They continue to follow the former president’s goings-on despite a lack of relevance and newsworthiness. (Is it news that an ex-president who often announced plans that never happened — infrastructure week! — says he wants to create a social media platform in a couple of months? Arguably not.) Moreover, they seem determined to create the same level of emotion and conflict in an administration that is emotionally contained and de-escalates conflict. The administration is worried! No, it’s struggling! No, make that besieged!

Every president must be covered with a critical eye, but the constant bias for drama leads to misleading coverage when the Oval Office inhabitant is not drama-prone. The withdrawal of a single nominee is not, despite Politico’s catastrophizing, evidence that White House chief of staff Ron Klain is on thin ice.

Finally, the media continues to take Republicans seriously and cover them as though they are acting in good faith. Simply repeating the hyperventilation from Republicans desperate to change the subject from the American Rescue Plan is not journalism. There is an obligation to independently verify data and do some homework before launching into a linguistic argument about what constitutes a “crisis.”

The lesson here for the administration is to debunk and rebut a false Republican-driven narrative quickly. As they do with covid-19 hearings, showering reporters with data rather than debating an issue on Republican terms generally works better. It is now also incumbent on the media to review its coverage and come clean with viewers and readers. When its breathless coverage turns out to be deeply misleading, it should explain how and why they got it wrong.


Is this real life?

We feel like we’ve got whiplash.

Just amazing.

Yeah, but it was bad when Trump did it! Now that Joe Biden’s in charge, it’s up to the media to go back to being lapdogs.

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