US President Joe Biden’s remarks to Prime Minister Narendra Modi denigrating the US press and calling Indian journalists “behave better” have annoyed the US media.
As they sat down for their meeting on Friday and before reporters were ushered into the Oval Office, Biden was videotaped telling Modi, “I think what we’re going to do is appeal to The press The Indian press behaves much better than the American press I have to be careful.
He added: “I think that with your permission we could not answer the questions because they will not ask any questions on the point.”
Reporters brought up the remarks on Monday with Biden spokeswoman Jen Psaki, who defended her boss by saying he didn’t want to be hard on them.
But she pointed out that American journalists tend to ask questions unrelated to the subject he is talking about.
Psaki said: “I think what he said was that they are not always“ on point. ”Now I know that is not something everyone wants to hear here. But what I think he was saying was, you know, today he might want to talk about COVID vaccines; some of the questions were about that. He might want to talk … and some of the questions don’t. not always relate to the subject he is talking about that day. I don’t think that was meant to be harsh on the members of the media whose questions he answered today and Friday as well. “
Another reporter objected to the comparison between Indian and American media.
She said: “The Indian press is ranked 142nd in the world, according to Reporters Without Borders, for press freedom. How does he say that about the American press compared to the Indian press?
Psaki defended Biden’s commitment to a free press around the world and also mentioned the number of times he has spoken to the media as president.
She said: “Having now worked for the president – holding that post for nine months, having seen him answer questions from the press more than 140 times, including today and Friday – he certainly respects the role. of the press, the role of free press freedom.
“We make sure that the press is with us, of course, when we travel; that we have the press with us for sprays overseas – in foreign capitals; and we will continue to do so. that this should testify to its commitment to press freedom around the world, ”she added.
The France-based Reporters Without Borders index is often cited by some in the Indian media and by Western organizations as an authoritative ranking.
In fact, it’s just an unscientific opinion poll of shortlisted people that produces bizarre rankings.
The United States itself is ranked 44th, behind Burkina Faso and Gabon.
Further study by Freedom House lists these two countries as “not free.”
Even Western countries like Britain and Germany that are listed above the United States have more restrictive media laws and censorship in some cases.
Biden criticized reporters as “negative.”
After meeting Russian President Vladimit Putin in Geneva in June, he told American journalists: “Look, to be a good journalist you have to be negative. You have to have a negative outlook on life, it seems to me, “Biden told reporters.” You never ask a positive question. “
Modi doesn’t hold open press conferences and faces media like Biden.
Biden has a prepared list of reporters he calls during his press conferences and refers to notes when responding, although he also sometimes calls reporters spontaneously.
He also has spontaneous encounters when he chooses to do so after making a statement or when he goes somewhere.
A rotating group of reporters and other media personnel put on a list by the White House Correspondents Association still follows the president and shares his reports with the rest of the media.
Biden’s media team tries to limit their encounters with the media to avoid any remarks that might come off the script and cause problems or embarrassment.
Biden’s media encounters stand in stark contrast to those of his more spontaneous predecessor Donald Trump – but at times produced blunders, questionable facts, and confused political statements.
Trump had a very hostile relationship with most of the American media and this often erupted into personal attacks from both sides.
Trump also waved his hand at Indian media when he met Modi in 2019.
“You have great reporters, I wish I had reporters like this. You are doing better than anyone. Where do you find these reporters? It is a good thing,” he told Modi afterwards. that Indian journalists asked several questions about Pakistan and terrorism.
He appeared to consider their line of questioning favorable to Modi and Patriot, unlike the American media which were very critical of him and his policies.
(Arul Louis can be contacted at [email protected] and followed @arulouis)
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