BY Staff WritersApril 1, 2024
2 weeks ago
BY 
 | April 1, 2024
2 weeks ago

Biden Prioritizes Celebrities Over Press, Faces Criticism

A wave of criticism has surged towards President Joe Biden, focusing on his perceived preference for engaging with celebrities rather than the traditional news media.

Politico's Jennifer Haberkorn has spotlighted this trend, particularly noting Biden's recent podcast appearance and a celebrity-studded fundraiser as instances of evading press interaction.

According to Fox News, Jennifer Haberkorn, a seasoned White House reporter for Politico, raised concerns about President Joe Biden's accessibility, especially regarding the press versus celebrities.

Biden Attracts Glitzy Events and Critique

The critique originated when President Biden joined the "SmartLess" podcast, hosted by actors Jason Bateman, Will Arnett, and Sean Hayes, on November 3, 2022. Jennifer Haberkorn's analysis zeroes in on how presidential communication is evolving, with a tilt toward seemingly more glamorous venues.

The podcast appearance was just one aspect of the critique. It also encompassed a star-studded fundraiser on March 28, 2024, at New York City's Radio City Music Hall. This event, featuring former Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, drew a crowd of celebrities and faced protests by pro-Palestinian groups.

This contrast between Biden's mingling with the elite and the concurrent political unrest highlights the complexities of how presidents engage with the public and manage their image.

Comparing Presidential Media Engagements

Comparative data highlights a stark contrast in President Biden's media engagement strategy during his first term. Politico reporters Alex Thompson and Tina Sfondeles pointed out that Biden had conducted "just 10" interviews within the first nine months of his presidency—significantly fewer than his predecessors at the same point in their terms.

To place this in context, Donald Trump and Barack Obama had completed 57 and 131 interviews, respectively, underscoring a noticeable departure from traditional media interaction.

This tendency was further evidenced by Biden's decision to skip the customary network presidential interview during the Super Bowl, an event traditionally seized by presidents to reach a wide audience. The optics of such choices, particularly in contrast to his readiness to participate in events like the podcast and the New York City fundraiser, underscores the criticism directed towards his media engagement policies.

The fundraiser in New York City itself became a flashpoint for criticism, not just because it showcased Biden in a celebrity milieu, but also for the interruptions caused by protesters, which highlighted the political tensions surrounding the event. The presence of celebrities like Lizzo, Stephen Colbert, and Cynthia Erivo and the protests interjected further elements of spectacle and controversy into the proceedings.

Optics of Presidential Actions Under Scrutiny

On the same day as Biden's fundraiser, former President Donald Trump opted for a different engagement, attending the wake of New York City police officer Jonathan Diller.

The Republican National Committee seized upon this to contrast Biden's actions, suggesting Trump's visit represented empathy and soberness against Biden's supposedly more frivolous engagements.

The critique went beyond Republican circles, with Democratic Party strategist and former Obama advisor David Axelrod weighing in on the scenario. Axelrod's comments touched upon the delicate balance of fundraising and optics, recognizing the complexity behind presidential actions and their public perception.

Haberkorn's original point of contention—that Biden appears more accessible to celebrities than to print reporters—was made stark with a striking comparison: "Number of times Jason Bateman has done a sit-down interview with President Biden: 2. Nearly every print reporter who covers the White House: 0." This assertion lays bare the gulf between traditional journalistic access and the newer channels of celebrity engagement being prioritized.

Public Perception and Presidential Image

The events and the ensuing criticism echo wider debates about the role of the presidency in an era of evolving media landscapes. Biden's choices in engaging with the public, whether through celebrity-hosted podcasts or star-studded fundraisers, signal a shift that has not gone unnoticed.

While such engagements may offer a different avenue to reaching audiences, they also raise questions about omitting more conventional forms of media engagement.

The arguments presented by Haberkorn and others point to a nuanced challenge facing modern presidencies: balancing the allure of new media opportunities with the foundational expectations of press engagement. As Biden's presidency continues, this balance—or the lack thereof—will likely remain a focal point of discussion and critique.

Conclusion

President Joe Biden's interactions with celebrities over traditional media channels have sparked notable criticism, exemplified by his participation in a celebrity podcast and a gala fundraiser amid political protests.

The comparison of his media engagements to those of his predecessors further highlights a shift that has raised eyebrows among journalists and political observers alike. The discussion around these choices reflects broader questions about presidential communication strategies and public perception in an evolving media environment.

Written by: Staff Writers

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