Biden’s Barking Is the Wrong Way to Handle the Press


Joe Biden’s recent sharp snap at Peter Doocy is only one of many examples of Biden letting his rancor towards the press show. These instances show that Biden fits within one of three models for presidents dealing with the press.

He, along with Nixon, Carter, and Trump, is a barker, a strategy that has not worked well in the past. Another strategy, being too nice to the press, has not led to improved coverage, as George H. W. Bush and Gerald Ford discovered.

But there is a third model, embodied by George W. Bush (43), Barack Obama, and Ronald Reagan, which is to find ways to push back at the press without letting your temper show. Reagan, naturally, was best at this, using humor to jibe the press without losing his cool. At one point, Reagan told a group of reporters, “Until the members of the press learn to behave like ladies and gentlemen, there will be no further news conferences.” He paused, and added, “So, I guess this is the last one.”

This third path may or may not make for better coverage, but it shows the president in a better light to the American people. I wrote about this for the Washington Examiner, which you can read here.

Published in Politics
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  1. James Lileks Contributor
    James Lileks

    Snapping at the press makes you look weak. Removing their heart while it is still beating and showing it to them while you tell a joke plays better, as you said. 

    I loved this from your piece:

    In 2007, for example, Bush teased reporter Mike Allen about his organization, the then-unknown Politico, asking him, “Michael, who do you work for?” When Allen responded, “Mr. President, I work for,” Bush said, “Pardon me? … You want a moment to explain [it] to the American people?” Allen gamely responded, “Mr. President, thank you for the question.”

    • #1
  2. Bishop Wash Member
    Bishop Wash

    Where does spying on reporters as Obama did fit into the mix?

    • #2
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