The reality of President Joe Biden’s second year in office seemed to register with the mainstream media Thursday as he wound up a five-day trip to Europe.
In a letter to White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, nearly 70 journalists demanded that traditional events and venues at the White House be reopened to the media when Biden returns to the United States.
“The current method of allowing a limited number of reporters into these events is not only restrictive and antithetical to the concept of a free press, but it has been done without any transparent process into how reporters are selected to cover these events,” the letter read.
“We are all left wondering who is making these decisions and what are the criteria on which they are based?”
“The incongruity of these restrictions underscores the belief by many reporters that the administration seeks to limit access to the president by anyone outside of the pool, or anyone who might ask a question the administration doesn’t want to answer,” the letter later read.
“Let us be candid. Our job is not to be liked, nor is it to be concerned about whether or not you like what we ask. A reporter’s ability to question the most powerful man in our government shouldn’t be discretionary. The administration’s continued efforts to limit access to the president cannot be defended.”
The letter came after Biden hastily ended a press conference in Madrid after answering just a few questions. As reporters shouted questions, Biden told them he was “out of here” and walked away from the podium.
“There’s no such thing as a quick one,” he told reporters, who had their hands raised and were shouting for answers. “I’m out of here.”
Huddling with the leaders of Group of Seven advanced economies in the Bavarian Alps and with NATO allies in Madrid, Biden was greeted warmly by foreign colleagues and notched significant policy accomplishments on modernizing the trans-Atlantic alliance to adapt to new threats from Russia and China.
At home, though, Biden is grappling with fallout from last week’s Supreme Court decision ending the nationwide right to abortion, which Biden condemned Thursday as “destabilizing.” Biden faces both the lowest approval ratings of his presidency and rising pessimism about the direction of the country.
Biden appeared to welcome the time away from Washington as a respite from his domestic predicament, insisting that despite turmoil at home on matters from inflation to gun violence, world leaders still valued America’s — and his — leadership.
“I have not seen anyone come up to me and … say anything other than ‘Thank you for America’s leadership,’” Biden said in high-spirited remarks during a press conference at the end of what he called a “historic” summit. “America is better positioned to lead the world than we ever have been.”
The three-day NATO meeting included the Biden administration announcing plans to bolster the U.S. military presence in Europe permanently, an agreement between Turkey, Finland, and Sweden — championed by Biden — to pave the way for the accession of the Nordic nations into NATO, and the alliance updating its strategic concept to reflect that China’s “coercive policies” are a challenge to the Western bloc’s interests.
To his credit, Biden’s international efforts drew praise from across the aisle, with GOP North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis, who led a delegation to the Madrid summit with Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and met with Biden Thursday morning, saying, “I think that the administration has played a key part in what’s made this summit a success.”
“Here we have a bipartisan delegation and a president who have a common goal. Back home, maybe not quite as much,” Tillis said.
Nebraska Sen. Deb Fischer, a Republican, added that Biden should apply some of his approaches to successful diplomacy abroad to Washington as well.
“I think it would only be helpful for the president if he would reach out to us in our country as well as here,” she said.
The Horn editorial team and the Associated Press contributed to this article