Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki speaks during a news briefing at the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House February 25, 2021 in Washington, DC. Psaki held a news briefing to answer questions from the members of the press. (Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki speaks during a news briefing at the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House February 25, 2021 in Washington, DC. Psaki held a news briefing to answer questions from the members of the press. (Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

With Biden's Jen Psaki at the Podium, Corporate Outlets No Longer Think Briefings Newsworthy

Obama briefings? Not news. Trump briefings? Always news. Biden briefings? Not news again.

Nowadays, corporate media would have you believe they are appalled by Donald Trump: He’s a liar and a cheat who distorted our democracy and was rotten to the press. I mean, they had to cover him because he was president, but they held their nose the whole time, and now they can’t wait to get back to serious reporting on policy.

 

The only trouble is, if you have a memory longer than a minute, you’ll recall that CBS head Les Moonves (Extra!, 4/16) declared flatly that the ad money and ratings Trump brought the network mattered much more than any harm giving him a platform might incur. “It’s a terrible thing to say. But bring it on, Donald. Keep going.” Or maybe you remember the time that CNN, Fox and MSNBC (FAIR.org, 3/16/16) all aired an empty podium where Trump was scheduled to speak instead of Bernie Sanders actually speaking.

 

Or maybe you’re just paying attention. As Press Run critic Eric Boehlert (2/22/21) noted recently, just a month into Joe Biden’s term, CNN has unceremoniously stopped airing daily White House press briefings. They didn’t cover Barack Obama’s much; in the last six months of his presidency, just 3% of daily briefings aired live (Media Matters, 5/30/17). But in early 2017, the DC press corps collectively decided that every Trump utterance had to be broadcast live, even if the briefings were “built on deceits [and] designed to foil honest inquiries,” as Boehlert said. Even if he was telling folks to inject themselves with bleach or accusing hospital workers of stealing PPE.

 

After one freakish display, CNN anchor John King (4/13/20) declared, “That was propaganda aired at taxpayer expense in the White House briefing room.” But the network just kept on airing them.

 

So the upshot: Obama briefings? Not news. Trump briefings? Always news. Biden briefings? Not news again.

 

Whatever you make of the fact that a news network’s rule of  “Everybody stop what you’re doing, the White House is about to make a statement!” only seemed to hold when they could expect that statement to be akin to a flaming car wreck…just remember that those are the “journalistic” criteria they’re working with all the time.


© 2021 Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR)
Janine Jackson

Janine Jackson

Janine Jackson is FAIR's program director and and producer/co-host of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. She contributes frequently to FAIR's magazine, Extra! and co-edited "The FAIR Reader: An Extra! Review of Press and Politics in the '90s" (2019).

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Please select a donation method:

AOC Slams Conservative Dems Who Would Rather Skip Town Than Vote to Extend Eviction Ban

"We cannot in good faith blame the Republican Party when House Democrats have the majority."

Jake Johnson ·


'A Devastating Failure': Eviction Ban Expires as House Goes on Vacation and Biden Refuses to Act

"We’re now in an eviction emergency," said Rep. Cori Bush. "Eleven million are now at risk of losing their homes at any moment. The House needs to reconvene and put an end to this crisis."

Jake Johnson ·


With Election Days Away, Bernie Sanders Headlines Get-Out-the-Vote Rally for Nina Turner

In his keynote speech, Sanders said corporate interests are pulling out all the stops to defeat Turner because "they know that when she is elected, she is going to stand up and take them on in the fight for justice."

Jake Johnson ·


Bush, Pressley, and Omar Sleep Outside Capitol to Demand Extension of Eviction Moratorium

Rep. Cori Bush, who was formerly unhoused, slammed her Democratic colleagues who "chose to go on vacation early today rather than staying to vote to keep people in their homes."

Jake Johnson ·


As Progressives Call for End to Blockade, Biden Announces More Sanctions Against Cuba

The move comes after Democratic leadership in the House blocked an amendment to roll back limits on how much money people in the United States can send to family on the island nation.

Jessica Corbett ·