Republican Rep. Jim Banks got bodied on Twitter for acting as if President Joe Biden was the worst thing to ever happen to American media. Banks tweeted, “have we ever seen a President attack and malign the free press like Joe Biden has??”
A hot mic caught Biden calling Fox News reporter Peter Doocy a “stupid son of a bitch” after a question about whether inflation was a political liability. Biden has since apologized for losing his cool. According to People, the president called Doocy to apologize.
But Banks seems to have a convenient case of Trump-related amnesia when it comes to the treatment of members of the media. Despite numerous articles on the subject, which several people brought to his attention, He is clearly trolling for attention and relevance in an election cycle that is otherwise sure to overlook him.
There isn’t any evidence that Biden’s conduct toward the media has reached the level of disrespect and, at times, harassment as his most immediate predecessor. Trump often saved his most disrespectful moments for Black women reporters.
An early April 2020 article from NBC highlighted how journalist Yamiche Alcindor was showered with love on social media after Trump attacked her for asking a clarifying question during a press conference early in the pandemic. As recounted by NBC, Alcindor asked Trump a question that included a direct quote from a prior interview with Sean Hannity. He not only denied ever saying the quote but became combative and had White House staff take the microphone from Alcindor. Another journalist later gave her the mic when it was their turn to ask a question.
A well-respected journalist across the board, Alcindor is known for asking real questions about issues that directly impact people’s lives. The incident followed a clear pattern of disrespect and contempt for the press, with his worst
April Ryan became a champion not just for herself but for a political journalist covering the Trump White House. Ryan, who recently celebrated 25 years as a White House correspondent, was called “nasty” and a “loser” by the president for asking a question during a 2018 press conference.
Ryan described the exchange in an interview on “The View,” saying she had shouted out a question about voter suppression to which Trump responded. She took it as an opening to ask a follow-up question. Nothing Ryan did or asked warranted Trump’s response. Trump and White House staff treated Ryan like an enemy combatant instead of a member of the press.
The attacks from Trump and his staff led Ryan to pen her 2018 book “Under Fire: Reporting From the Front Lines of the Trump White House.”
In another line of questioning in Nov. 2018 from journalist Abby Philips about the Mueller probe, Trump responded that she and her question were “stupid.” While Black women journalists were not his only targets, there was a particularly demeaning way he responded to them. Overall, Trump’s attacks on several journalists rose to the level of creating a hostile attitude toward the media.
An April 2020 report from the Committee to Protect Journalists described how Trump’s harassment of journalists and general attacks on the media undermined the institution’s credibility and put both democracy at home and abroad at risk.
Banks is just trying to score points with the online fake news cadre who insist there is some war against conservatives and their ilk. Biden took less than a day to apologize for losing his cool. Meanwhile, Trump is still doubling down on attitudes and approaches that have long been proven to be harmful to a free and fair media.