President Biden is being slammed on social media for a joke he made at the media’s expense Saturday night at the annual White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA) dinner.
In his speech, the president acknowledged, albeit casually, that his public appearances leave much to be desired.
“In many ways this dinner sums up my first two years in office,” Biden said. “I’ll talk for 10 minutes, no questions asked, and happily walk away.”
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, responded to the clip by pointing out that the media laughed “because they’re on” Biden’s team.
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Members of the media laughed in the audience, but the joke went viral on social media.
Scott Jennings, a CNN contributor, criticized the president for “ridiculing the press.”
“For the reporters in the room: He’s not laughing with you, he’s laughing at you,” Jennings said. “I mean, the reality is, I think he’s mocking the press. The guy doesn’t take questions, and he’s up there joking about it. And they’re clapping, and they’re laughing about it.”
“I’m pro-reporter, and I think the president should talk to these reporters and not mock them,” Jennings added.
NPR reporter Tamara Keith, this year’s WHCA president, also joked about Biden’s elusiveness.
“Every president privately and sometimes publicly curtails his news coverage, and yet they invite us and answer our questions,” he said at the dinner, adding, “although, sir, not as much what we want.”
Biden, who is seeking re-election, held his 24th press conference last week, meaning he has held the fewest news conferences of any president since Ronald Reagan, The New York Times reported. In response to the criticism, a White House official told The Times that Biden conducted “nearly 400” question-and-answer sessions, which though the newspaper noted were often “very brief.”
“More than any other president in recent memory, Mr. Biden, 80, has taken steps to reduce opportunities for reporters to question him in forums where he can offer unscripted answers. and they can follow up,” The Times reported.
The lack of media access follows former White House communications director Kate Bedingfield saying in the early months of the administration that Biden “doesn’t shy away from questions” and that he is “always willing to ask.”
“The president doesn’t shy away from asking questions. I’ll let him decide if he’s going to ask questions this afternoon. But you saw just yesterday he did a full sit-down interview on this. So, he’s always ready to ask questions and I’ll let him decide if he does that after his remarks today,” Bedingfield said in August 2021.
Earlier this month, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre pressed whether the White House was “trying to shield” Biden from questions from the media.
“Absolutely not. Absolutely not,” answered Jean-Pierre.
“I understand, John. I understand. I understand. I’ve discussed this question three times. I understand. It’s your job to ask me this question. I understand that. And that’s no problem. at all, ” he continued.
Biden was criticized on Twitter for joking about avoiding the media and avoiding their questions.
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