President Biden “annoyed” with US press asking off-topic questions, Press Secretary Psaki says

On Monday, Press Secretary Jen Psaki indicated that President Biden has been annoyed with the American press for posing questions that are not “on point.” Psaki’s remark comes following several recent meetings the president has had with foreign leaders in the White House.  

Last week, President Biden took a swing at American reporters while having a meeting in the Oval Office with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “The Indian press is much better behaved than the American press,” Biden said. “I think, with your permission, you could not answer questions because they won’t ask any questions on point,” he added.

Charlie Spierling of Breitbart noted that Biden’s comments were not included in the White House’s official transcript. That incident followed a similar one when Biden declined to take questions from reporters during his meeting with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson; however, Johnson did call on two British reporters.

Following their conversation for the cameras, Johnson thanked Biden for having him and asked: “I think – would it be OK if we just have a couple of questions? Just a – just a couple of questions.” Biden responded by saying, “Good luck.” After Johnson answered questions from two British reporters, White House aides began quickly ushering reporters from the Oval Office as they were trying to ask more questions.

Steven Portnoy, CBS News Radio White House correspondent, reported that members of the editorial pool headed straight to Psaki’s office with the complaint “that no American reporters were recognized for questions in the president’s Oval Office. Psaki was pressed during Monday’s briefing about Biden’s criticisms of U.S. reporters.”

“I would note, first, that he took questions on Friday, and he took questions again today, and I think what he said is that they’re not always ‘on point,’” Psaki began. “Now I know that isn’t something that anyone wants to hear in here, but what I think he was converting, as you know, today, he might want to talk about COVID vaccines [and] some of the questions were about [what] he might want to talk about, and some of the questions are not always about the topic he’s talking about in that day,” she added.  

President Biden has had a history of negative interactions with the press throughout his presidency despite once praising the value of journalists during his campaign. Back in July, Biden called Kelly O’Donnell, NBC News correspondent, a “pain in the neck” for raising a question that deviated from his preferred topic.

He also told CNN correspondent Kaitlan Collins that she was “in the wrong business” after she questioned the president on his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Later on Monday, Psaki was asked why Biden said the Indian press was “better behaved” than the U.S. press as, according to ‘Reporters without Borders’, India ranks 142nd in press freedoms.

She asserted that the president is committed to press freedom: “He certainly respects the role of the press, the role of the freedom of press, the free press, [and] we ensure that we have a press with us, of course, when we travel, that we have press with us for sprays in foreign capitals and we will continue to. And I think that speaks to his commitment to freedom of press around the world.”




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