News analysis | Biden’s statement to the Indian press creates controversy at the White House briefing

“… because they (the US press) don’t ask questions,” Biden said in a video clip on Indian television.

The American and Indian press got their share of the news last week President Joe Biden Before reporters were allowed to go to the Oval Office on Friday to “spray the press,” he and Prime Minister Narendra Modi advised not to ask questions and that the Indian press “behaved much better” than the American press.

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“The Indian press behaves much better than the American press … I think with your permission we can’t answer questions because they don’t ask questions,” Biden said on a video clip on an Indian television station. the one on the oval. The office was and was set up before the reporter arrived.

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The Indian press has faced restrictions and unflattering reports on several sites in Washington DC in recent days in light of Prime Minister Modi’s visit to the American capital.

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Firstly, the issue of restricted access to Mr Modi’s events. Then there was Mr Biden’s hot mic moment when he said the Indian press was “doing a lot better” than its American counterparts. The third and youngest relates to questions from American journalists at a press conference on Monday at the White House.

“No compliments”

The “behave better” label is generally not seen as a compliment by journalists.

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Biden’s comments in this case are similar to his 2017 predecessor.

“You have a friendly press,” said former US President Donald Trump to Modi during the Prime Minister’s visit to the White House.

When asked on Monday why the American President criticized US journalists in this environment, the White House press secretary said: “Well, first of all I would like to say that he answered questions on Friday and answered questions again today. And I think what he said was him [the U.S. press] not always to the point. “

“Well, I know nobody here wants to hear it [the White House briefing room]but I think he’s conveying that he might want to talk about the COVID vaccine today … and some of the questions don’t necessarily relate to the topic he was talking about that day. I don’t think it has to be a tough cut for the media, “he said.

Asked by other reporters whether the President “was reluctant” to ask questions regarding Biden’s meeting with Modi and prior to that with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in front of a foreign leader last week, Psaki denied it.

“… He has stood by the side of foreign leaders many times in the past and will continue to do so,” he said.

Biden speaks often to the press – but these addresses often consist of calling reporters with a predefined list of names.

Freedom of the press

Then comes the question that Biden’s lack of knowledge of the Indian press environment seems to address India’s poor press rating for freedom of the press.

“The president said the Indian press is behaving better than the US press, but according to Reporters Without Borders, the Indian press ranks 142nd in the world for freedom of the press. How does he say this about the US press compared to the Indian press ? A reporter asked Ms. Psaki.

“Just wanted to let you know that after working for the President for nine months and answering him more than 140 press questions, including today and Friday, he certainly respects the role of press president, the role of … media, he certainly respects freedom . We make sure that we have the press with us when we travel, that we have press to spray in foreign capitals, and we will continue to do so, ”said Ms. Psaki.

“And I think it should speak to his commitment to press freedom around the world.”

None of the leaders answered questions after the Modi-Biden meeting, and journalists shouted questions at them when the meeting ended.

Indian press group for bilateral meeting with Biden and US Vice President Kamala Harriswhile for the Quad has guaranteed a place only for state media and private news agencies. Some outfits have been assigned to more than one location (e.g. to handle cameras and related equipment). The White House press group is run by a system administered by officials and the White House Correspondents Association, the rules of which are known and shared upon request. The White House press office seemed unaware that access to the Indian press pool for the event was not an equal opportunity process.

Hindu can finally take part in the “press spray” (the only access for the press) at the beginning of each session. However, it was never said that he would get a place here. How exactly this happened is still unclear.

Mr. Modi did not speak to the press during his visit. Secretary of State Harsh Vardhan Shringla made two briefing notes during this part of the Washington visit.

After the four-day meeting on Friday, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison held a press “crowd” at the White House. Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga spoke to the press on Friday evening and Saturday morning.