When the American president Joe Biden says that he will not accept any more questions at the end of a press conference, it usually happens that reporters shout pending doubts in case the president takes the bait. What is unusual is that he insults them, as happened this Monday at the White House. Steve Doocy, a correspondent for the conservative network Fox News, yelled at the Democrat if he thought the inflation —located at 7%, a record in 40 years— will be a “political ballast” ahead of the legislative elections in November.
—”It’s a great asset… more inflation”— answered the president, with irony, apparently believing that the microphone was turned off. “Stupid son of a bitch,” he continued. In the evening, the president called Doocy, with whom he has a history of tense encounters, to apologize. The journalist, grateful for the gesture, said on the Sean Hannity program on Fox that Biden “clarified things” in the call and pointed out that the outburst “was not personal.”
Before the episode, Biden had complained to journalists that all the questions were about the military presence in Ukraine in the midst of escalating tension with Russia. The exchange between Doocy and the president was not broadcast on the White House channels, but on US television C-SPAN. Minutes after the video circulated on social networks, Fox News commentators dedicated themselves to criticizing the president’s attitude.
When the Democrat took office as president, he told reporters: “I’m not kidding when I say this: If you ever work with me and I hear you treat another colleague with disrespect or condescension, I promise you I will fire you on the spot.” Biden arrived at the Oval Office waving the flag of respect and union after four years of incendiary rhetoric with Donald Trump.
Not only the tone differentiates the two mandarins, but also the relationship with the press. Unlike the Republican, Biden does not usually answer too many questions to journalists in appearances. Last week he starred in his second solo press conference in a year since he arrived at the White House.
Although he speaks less to the press than his predecessor, the relationship is better. During the Trump era, he accused the media of being dishonest and intentionally downplaying his achievements. The critics aimed at the main television and written media, except for Fox News. The rhetoric against the press undermined the confidence of conservative citizens in journalistic work. In 2017, 85% of Republican voters believed that the media had a negative effect on the US compared to 68% in 2010, according to a Pew Research poll.