By Arab News
By Dalia Al-Aquidi*
For journalists in America’s capital, the times of presidential elections and the peaceful transfer of power are the most interesting to write about, report on, and analyze. In such times, the role of the press is to examine the legacy of the outgoing president and learn about the new leader, his vision, Cabinet, and policies.
The media should offer a closer look at the political history of the president-elect, his previous stances and votes on issues that matter to the average citizen, and to question the decisions of the person who will lead the country for the coming four years. This scenario has been repeated over and over with every president who has been voted in to serve the American people and be the new “leader of the free world.”
No president has been faced with a hostile attitude like that experienced by Donald Trump since 2016. This complicated the relationship between the White House press office and the journalists themselves. Too many mainstream media reporters expressed their own opinions on issues instead of reporting on them.
Unfortunately, sometimes it seemed like they were competing as to who could ask the most offensive question in order to be viewed as a hero among their peers. These journalists appear to have forgotten that disrespecting the president has nothing to do with who he is, but rather what he represents — and there is no pride in disrespecting the office of the president of the US and what it represents for the whole world.
On the other hand, the same media that has been questioning and investigating Trump and his family for four years, including pushing baseless allegations regarding Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign colluding with the Russian government, is now treating President-elect Joe Biden like a fragile crystal vase. During the presidential election campaign, the unbalanced coverage of Trump and his challenger was breathtaking and unprecedented.
Biden’s presidential campaign National Press Secretary T.J. Ducklo last month stated that the president-elect understands the vital role the media plays, describing it as a critical part of democracy. “You will see a huge change in the culture and the way that this White House treats the media,” Ducklo said.
Why would Biden not like the media and its famous news reporters? They largely give him a free pass from scrutiny by avoiding asking tough questions and allowing him to freely dodge any inquiry on key issues that we, even now, have no answers for. For Biden, holding a press conference has become too easy. All he has to do is answer softball questions from the toughest journalists in Washington, which were likely picked by his staffers based on how friendly they are and how badly they want Trump to be condemned.
Examples include: “Trump said this in a tweet, how do you respond?” “I want to get your thoughts on Trump’s failure to respond to the pandemic,” and “How would you address Trump’s refusal to concede the 2020 election?”
“You announced some key members of your Cabinet today, a very experienced group, a very diverse group. Clearly, you are trying to send a message. Can you articulate what that message is?” NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt asked Biden in his first one-on-one interview following the election. Holt, among many others, seems to be ignoring or has forgotten that the American people, regardless of who they voted for, are eager to know what the near future holds for them. The public has the right to know and understand the approach and policies of the new president, instead of being told: There is no need to have all the details, it is good for you, and that’s it.
Biden’s perspective on taxation, trade, immigration, gun control, and foreign affairs are important issues that the media should be reporting on. That is what journalism is all about. Journalists need to go back to the core of their profession, which is telling real stories and revealing facts without any political or social influence. The press needs to work hard to regain credibility and respect, instead of going with the flow to sound politically correct.
No story should be hidden from the public based on an individual’s decision, made according to their own agendas and beliefs.
And when the press is done asking Biden about his feelings and responses to what Trump has done or tweeted, they should start asking questions about Hunter Biden and whether the president-elect enabled his son to profit from his influence as vice president to arrange business deals in Ukraine and China. These are extremely serious allegations that should be examined and investigated by a press that claims to be ethical and professional. Will that ever happen? Only time will tell.
- Dalia Al-Aqidi is a Senior Fellow at the Center for Security Policy. She is a former Republican congressional candidate. Twitter: @DaliaAlAqidi