Tim Graham: Biden hides from media softball questions – Trump takes tough questions by liberal media sharks

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In the general election months of the 2016 campaign, candidate Donald Trump avoided a “formal” press conference for 168 days, until a few days before the inauguration. He took informal questions and faced debate moderators, but nothing “formal.” Trump had mocked Hillary Clinton for going 270-plus days without a press event.

Now we’re seeing this game unfold again. While President Trump has given regular press briefings to address the coronavirus pandemic, former Vice President Joe Biden hasn’t had a press conference since April 2. The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee has done cuddly interviews with smitten late-night hosts like Jimmy Fallon on NBC, who gushed over his reciting of Irish poetry, but that doesn’t count.

Conservatives on Twitter were amused when liberal New York magazine promoted an article on Twitter this way: “Joe Biden is at his best when he’s neither speaking nor appearing in public. Will his campaign have to abandon its most effective strategy?”

HIDIN’ BIDEN? DEM PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE HASN’T HELD A NEWS CONFERENCE IN OVER A MONTH

In the article, Zak Cheney-Rice writes: “Joe Biden’s most effective campaign strategy has been to lie low and let people vote for whatever imagined version of Joe Biden congealed inside their heads.”

This is not a strategy that inspires confidence in Biden’s handling of interviews. But a comparison of Democrats and Republicans on press conferences is misleading.

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A press conference for Trump has the feel of diving into a tank of hungry sharks. A press conference for Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden carries the vibe of getting free pizza and game tokens at Chuck E. Cheese.

Biden’s “virtual” press conference April 2 only lasted 20 minutes, and he jabbered for seven minutes before he took his first question. There were only four questioners, all from the liberal media elite. Let’s summarize how he was “tested” by their softballs:

First, Andrea Mitchell of NBC asked Biden how badly Trump was doing in providing emergency protective supplies for health care workers, and other alleged administration failures.

Second, Bill Barrow of The Associated Press asked how Biden would respond to Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., saying the crisis illustrated how the private sector has failed and we need “Medicare-for-all.” Barrow also asked if Sanders was “confusing” the issue for poor Biden.

Third, Jessica Dean of CNN asked about a potential phone call to President Trump and whether Biden thought this would be “productive” and whether the president would actually listen to Biden’s proposals.

Finally, Trevor Hunnicutt of Reuters asked if Biden still supported in-person voting for the Wisconsin primary.

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Biden’s interview with Mika Brzezinski on “Morning Joe” on MSNBC saw much more traditional furrowed-brow questioning. But that is the exception, not the norm, and was performed to get Biden “beyond” the Tara Reade questions regarding Reade’s allegation that Biden sexually assaulted her in 1993.

The norm was the previous 77 questions put to Biden since Reade publicly accused Biden of assaulting when he was a senator representing Delaware. CNN did an hour-long town hall with Biden and couldn’t (or wouldn’t) address it.

The norm is waiting to ask a tough question like that until the Biden campaign signals it is “ready.” Instead, NBC’s Chuck Todd threw a bloody softball about Trump’s actions on the coronavirus pandemic:  “Do you think there is blood on the president’s hands, considering the slow response?”

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The norm for Trump is to ask him a tough question at almost every opportunity. And not just “tough” questions, but sometimes wildly unfair questions, like Olivia Nuzzi of New York Magazine implying that Trump is somehow responsible for causing all the now more than 71,000 confirmed coronavirus deaths in the U.S.

Biden can hide … and the media will cooperate, as they did with Hillary Clinton. Those like CNN media reporter Brian Stelter will try to punish Trump for avoiding press conferences at one point, and then try to punish Trump for having one every day, as the president did when holding coronavirus press briefings.

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