Despite the occasional news cycle where the Biden administration faced tough questions, the press has been largely supportive of the 46th president.
In honor of the milestone date in the Biden presidency, here are ten highlights of media fawning over the Democratic commander-in-chief.
Table Of Contents
- 1 Biden’s Inauguration
- 2 Politico praises the “largely gaffe-free” administration
- 3 The media’s so-called “fact-checkers”
- 4 Associated Press tout’s Biden’s “public empathy”
- 5 CNN’s groundbreaking reporting on Biden’s “early bedtime”
- 6 PBS’ Yamiche Alcindor: Biden’s a ”moral, decent man”
- 7 WaPo’s Jennifer Rubin scolds reporters for their “tough” treatment of Biden at his first press conference
- 8 The New York Times’ ‘straight-up propaganda’ promoting Biden’s infrastructure plan
- 9 CNN hails Biden for making US the “global leader in vaccinations”
- 10 Biden’s address to Congress
- 11 BONUS: President Biden picks up weed for First Lady, media swoons
Right out of the gate, media members couldn’t contain their excitement while covering Biden’s inauguration.
“He is the Better Angels president,” NBC News anchor Chuck Todd declared. “Joe Biden believes — he’s eternally optimistic, he’s not cynical … he’s never cynical. He still believes that the better angels exist. And it was such an important moment.”
Todd’s MSNBC colleague Joy Reid gushed over what she called a “love story” between the president and First Lady Jill Biden.
“What a great love story between Jill Biden and Joe Biden and the way that she helped his family recover from tragedy, you know, to bring Joe back from what he lost,” Reid said. “It’s a wonderful story, and we haven’t had a love story in the White House in four years.”
Correspondents on ABC and CBS suggested Biden’s inaugural address was a religious experience, one comparing it to a “church service” with a president as the “priest,” noting how “after a good sermon, the congregation doesn’t want to go home.”
Liberal CNN White House correspondent John Harwood took to Twitter and outlined what he indicated the changes would be from President Trump to President Biden, from “lies” to “truth,” “ignorance” to “knowledge,” “amorality” to “decency,” “cruelty” to empathy,” and “corruption” to “public service.”
CNN’s head of communications Matt Dornic took the fanfare to the next level that night while watching the fireworks display on the National Mall.
“This team truly understands optics. These images will inspire our friends and shake our foes,” Dornic tweeted.
Politico praises the “largely gaffe-free” administration
Politico’s Transition Playbook, which billed itself as a “guide to the first 100 days of the Biden administration,” questioned whether the new president, who has a reputation as a “gaffe machine,” has become a “disciplined messenger.”
“Two and a half months in, that’s undoubtedly the case,” Politico answered its own question. “The president so far has surprised some of his former colleagues and allies with a largely gaffe-free White House debut after a lifetime of verbal stumbles.”
As the article itself noted, Biden hadn’t held a formal press conference at the time since he took office and the president had not made himself widely available to reporters.
“Biden’s press availability has been limited — both an attempt to synthesize the comms strategy and an implicit recognition that an extended interview or press conference poses new risks,” Politico later acknowledged.
On Twitter, Politico attempted to summarize its latest Playbook entry, writing, “Two and a half months in, President Biden has surprised some of his former colleagues and allies with a largely gaffe-free White House debut after a lifetime of verbal stumbles.”
The media’s so-called “fact-checkers”
Some of the media’s most prominent “fact-checkers” have not only given President Biden the benefit of the doubt for various falsehoods but have also gone out of their way to praise his truthfulness.
“Biden has been generally factual so far, especially in scripted remarks,” CNN’s star “fact-checker” Daniel Dale tweeted back in March. “Where he has been inaccurate, it has often been when he has been attempting off the cuff to refer to numbers he doesn’t have nailed down.”
Dale was even more charitable in his “fact-check” of the president’s interview with ABC News, in which Dale outlined “three statistical claims” that were “wrong.”
“The context around two of these inaccurate claims suggests they may have been slips rather than purposeful lies,” he said. “Still, it’s our job to correct the record when the President is incorrect.”
CNN’s go-to fact-checker appeared to dismiss one of Biden’s more overt falsehoods from Wednesday’s joint address to Congress as an “ad-lib.”
“Biden’s ‘I traveled over 17,000 miles with’ Xi Jinping claim is extremely inaccurate, as WaPo has shown. He’s spent a lot of time with Xi, but that ‘miles’ number is very false. That was an ad-lib; Biden’s text has been very factual, but he just started talkin’ for a second,” Dale tweeted.
Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler similarly downplayed a falsehood Biden stated during a CNN town hall back in February when the president claimed, “We didn’t have the vaccine when we came into office.”
“It was a verbal stumble, a typical Biden gaffe,” Kessler tweeted, urging the president’s critics to “cool the outrage meter.”
Kessler, who did hammer Biden with “Four Pinocchios” over his repeated falsehoods about Georgia’s election reform bill, threw in the towel on maintaining a database of the president’s misleading claims after counting “67” in his first 100 days, (which he later updated to “78” to include Biden’s address to Congress). He operated a fact-checking database throughout the Trump presidency.
“Here’s the Biden database — which we do not plan to extend beyond 100 days. I have learned my lesson,” Kessler tweeted on Monday.
He explained, “‘Learned my lesson’ means that who knows what the next four years will bring. We have fact-checked Biden rigorously and will continue to do so. Trump at 500 claims/100 days was manageable; 8,000+ was not.”
Associated Press tout’s Biden’s “public empathy”
The Associated Press raised eyebrows with its report about President Biden’s trip to Texas following the deadly winter weather that impacted the Lone Star State.
“President Joe Biden’s public empathy is on display on his trip to a major disaster site since he took office a little over a month ago,” the AP began the report. “The president and his wife, Jill, are in Texas to survey damage caused by severe winter weather and to encourage people to get their coronavirus shots.”
Following viral backlash, the AP changed its lead paragraph to read, “President Joe Biden heard firsthand from Texans clobbered by this month’s brutal winter weather on Friday and pledged to stick with them ‘for the long haul’ as he made his first trip to a major disaster area since he took office.”
CNN’s groundbreaking reporting on Biden’s “early bedtime”
The network that prides itself on “facts first” published quite the exposé in February about President Biden’s “routine.”
“As Biden settles into a job he has been seeking on-and-off for three decades, the daily routine of being president – with a phalanx of Secret Service agents, regular updates on the nation’s top secrets and an ever-present press corps – has come more naturally for him than for his more recent predecessors,” CNN reported. “Unlike his most recent predecessors – night owls who spent the dark hours reading briefing materials (President Barack Obama) or watching television (President Donald Trump) – Biden is more of an early-to-bed type.”
“More so than any recent first couple, Joe and Jill Biden have demonstrated a publicly affectionate relationship, one that extends to private moments spent together in the White House residence,” the piece fawned over the president and First Lady. “Jill Biden recently saw the President off with a kiss before his first flight aboard Marine One.”
CNN also highlighted Biden’s bonding with his granddaughters in an arcade over “Mario Kart” at Camp David.
PBS’ Yamiche Alcindor: Biden’s a ”moral, decent man”
PBS NewsHour correspondent Yamiche Alcindor was perhaps Biden’s biggest cheerleader at his first formal press conference in March.
“You’ve said over and over again that immigrants shouldn’t come to this country right now … That message is not being received,” Alcindor told the president. “Instead, the perception of you that got you elected as a moral, decent man is the reason a lot of immigrants are coming to this country and are trusting you with unaccompanied minors.”
Alcindor went on to ask him how he was going to “resolve the tension” at the border and how his administration will “choose” which migrant families stay and go.
Alcindor also has a history of granting anonymity to her White House “sources” in order to push pro-Biden talking points.
The PBS reporter has quoted sources on background to praise Biden Cabinet nominees trash the Trump administration’s vaccine rollout, and give positive framing of Biden’s remarks. It’s far more common for a reporter’s sources to go on background to speak critically about their place of work, rather than push standard talking points.
Alcindor even pushed the debunked claim on MSNBC that the Biden administration was “starting from scratch” with the vaccine rollout in January.
“The number-one thing that I hear from my sources when I say how bad is it, is it worse than you thought it was when it comes to former President Trump’s response to the virus, literally 9 out of 10 times they say it’s worse than we could’ve ever imagined,” she said on MSNBC’s “Deadline: White House.”
“What you have is a Biden administration that is, as Vice President Harris said, starting from scratch, and that is really, really hard,” Alcindor added.
WaPo’s Jennifer Rubin scolds reporters for their “tough” treatment of Biden at his first press conference
While it’s widely believed that a free press is meant to hold the government accountable, Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin took the opposite route with a piece chastising the media over what she suggested was their harsh treatment of President Biden at his first press conference.
“After weeks of whining, the White House press corps got its first official Biden presidential news conference on Thursday,” Rubin began her column, titled “Biden excels at his first news conference. The media embarrass themselves.”
Rubin complained about the reporters who pressed Biden on the border crisis, writing “the repeated questions on the same topic were tiresome and a poor use of precious time.”
“Try as they might to seem ‘tough,’ the media did not succeed in knocking Biden off message,” Rubin praised the president. “Biden spoke in great detail and length to show not only his mastery of the issues but also to suck tension and conflict out of the room. He simply would not be lured into accepting a false premise devised by Republicans.”
“The media did not distinguish themselves. By asking about immigration multiple times and echoing the false narrative that Biden had created a ‘surge,’ they showed they were more interested in sound bites than actual news,” the Post columnist continued. “Their failure to ask about the pandemic, the recession, anti-Asian violence, climate change or even infrastructure (Biden had to bring it up himself) was nothing short of irresponsible. They pleaded for a news conference and then showed themselves to be unserious. They never laid a glove on Biden; they did, however, make the case for why these events are an utter waste of the president’s time.”
The New York Times’ ‘straight-up propaganda’ promoting Biden’s infrastructure plan
In early April, after President Biden unveiled his $2 trillion infrastructure plan, The New York Times ran what critics called “straight-up propaganda” with front-page reporting that seemed to aid the administration rather than inform readers.
“BIDEN PLAN STRESSES JOBS, ROADS AND GROWTH” the top headline read.
Other headlines published on the homepage include “$2 Trillion for ‘Once in Generation’ Fix on Infrastructure,” “Big Bet: Fighting Climate Change Will Add to Work Force,” and “Tax Pitch Challenges G.O.P. Notions on Lifting Economy.”
CNN hails Biden for making US the “global leader in vaccinations”
CNN was similarly accused of publishing “credulous Biden propaganda” for a report that gave the president absolute credit for the vaccine rollout while completely disregarding the COVID response from the Trump administration.
In the piece titled, “How the US went from having one of the worst Covid responses to being a global leader in vaccinations under Biden,” CNN praised the Biden administration’s “wartime effort” to get millions of Americans vaccinated.
“The effort, described to CNN during in-depth interviews with three of the administration’s top Covid advisers and two other White House officials, has allowed the US to go from having one of the worst Covid responses in the world to being a global leader in getting shots in arms,” CNN wrote on Monday. “To turn it around, Biden’s team brought a fresh urgency and a desire to lean on the scientific experts who had been ignored so much in the previous year.
“Ever since January 20, there has been a dispute between current administration officials and ones from the last over exactly what plans for vaccine distribution the Trump administration had left its successor,” CNN continued, alluding to its debunked reporting that the Biden administration was “starting from scratch” with the vaccine rollout.
As critics noted, the CNN report made no mention of Operation Warp Speed, which successfully produced three vaccines under the Trump administration.
Biden’s address to Congress
Like at his inauguration, President Biden was inundated with glowing press following his first joint address to Congress.
As the conservative Media Research Center demonstrated, the liberal networks often described Biden’s speech using the same description as “big,” “bold,” and “ambitious,” some even using the term “popular.”
“Hearing it all laid out, it’s pretty astonishing how much has tangibly changed in Americans’ lives in the first 100 days of this presidency,” Time correspondent Charlotte Alter reacted. “More than a million new jobs. $1400 checks. And most importantly, vaccines now available to every America.”
“It’s honestly genuinely rare that a President can give a speech like this 99 days into his term and point to this scale of achievement,” MSNBC host Chris Hayes tweeted. “Some of that is the good luck of timing, but they’ve made promises, and then kept them on the biggest stuff they ran on.”
Hayes continued, “Again, some of this is good timing, but the jobs numbers he’s touting now are actually unprecedented. And lots of the criticism on the right/business press is that the economy is growing too fast!”
Hayes’ colleague, MSNBC anchor Brian Williams, praised Biden’s “use of tone” and that his “voice modulation was rather extraordinary.”
“The Last Word” host Lawrence O’Donnell declared “every single sentence had a very clear point to it” and “every line of it had that Biden humility in it.”
ABC News correspondent Martha Raddatz insisted Biden “is really trying to bring the country together. It was a ‘Make America Feel Good’ night.”
NBC’s Andrea Mitchell called it a “remarkable speech” and praised Biden’s “passion” for things like human rights.
CNN commentator Van Jones called Biden’s speech “beautiful” and argued he was selling “positive populism.”
CNN political analyst Gloria Borger bashed Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., who gave the GOP rebuttal to the president’s address for “refusing to give Joe Biden any credit on COVID-19” while MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace similarly argued “Operation Warp Speed didn’t do anything to get a needle in the arms.”
BONUS: President Biden picks up weed for First Lady, media swoons
President Biden went viral on Thursday as he picked up a dandelion from the White House lawn and gave it to his wife while walking to Marine One before their trip to Atlanta.
CBS News correspondent Weijia Jiang shared a video of the gesture while Washington Post reporter Matt Viser posted photographs.
ABC News, NBC News, CSPAN, and E! News also tweeted about it while outlets like The Hill and Yahoo wrote reports about the exchange.
Fox News’ Brian Flood and David Rutz contributed to this report.