WASHINGTON — President Biden shocked reporters Wednesday by mimicking their attempts to ask questions during an Oval Office media availability with Israeli President Isaac Herzog.
Biden smiled in apparent amusement as members of the daily press pool shouted questions — before looking with wide eyes at one reporter and rapidly moving his own mouth to imitate her attempt to question him.
The Herzog sitdown was Biden’s second event Wednesday at which he did not take questions from the press as he faces political headwinds heading into the Nov. 8 midterm elections —including the worst inflation since 1981 and new GDP data that could confirm a recession is underway when it is released Thursday.
Biden, who turns 80 next month, has developed a record of chiding the press corps during his time in office — continuing former President Donald Trump’s habit of blasting journalists with whom he disagreed, though on occasion Biden has apologized later.
Biden previously ridiculed the press corps on Oct. 4 for their standard — and longtime — practice of shouting questions as reporters were ushered out of an event focused on legal barriers to abortion and contraceptives.
During his most recent solo White House press conference — more than nine months ago in January — he suggested that RealClearPolitics reporter Philip Wegmann might be illiterate when Wegmann asked about Biden saying that Republicans who opposed a federal election bill were “on the side of” famous historical racists.
Days later, Biden in January called Fox News reporter Peter Doocy a “stupid son of a bitch” for asking him a question about the political impact of inflation.
Biden criticized Fox’s Jacqui Heinrich the same month for asking a “stupid question” about why he was waiting for Russian President Vladimir Putin to make the “first move” in potentially invading Ukraine, which Putin proceeded to do one month later.
In June 2021, Biden attacked CNN’s Kaitlan Collins for asking him about why he found his summit with Putin in Geneva constructive, telling the reporter, “If you don’t understand that, you’re in the wrong business,” before apologizing shortly afterward.
The White House press corps has had an array of issues with Biden and his staff — though the clashes generally get less attention than under Trump, who often called the media the “enemy of the people.”
Under Biden, the White House Correspondents’ Association has tried since June 2021 to understand and end a mysterious prescreening process for journalists allowed into large indoor events with Biden — only to be stonewalled, prompting journalists representing most briefing-room seats to sign an unprecedented protest letter in June.
Biden’s team has also frustrated journalists by giving very few interviews and press conferences.
Last year, Biden refused to take questions from reporters during an Oval Office visit by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, even though Johnson answered questions from two members of the UK press.
Biden’s 42 interviews as of Sept 30 pale in comparison to Ronald Reagan’s 92, George HW Bush’s 90, Bill Clinton’s 86, George W. Bush’s 80, Barack Obama’s 231 and Trump’s 143 at the same point in their presidencies. Reagan more than doubled the number of Biden’s interviews despite being shot in the lung in an assassination attempt shortly after he took office.