PBS correspondent Yamiche Alcindor’s questions to President Joe Biden during his first news conference on Thursday were blasted as “advocacy” by media critics as she traded barbs online with a Washington Post columnist regarding the current migrant surge at the border.
Alcindor was the second reporter called on by the president, who appeared to be reading from a predetermined list of correspondents and who, at times, appeared hesitant and confused.
“You’ve said over and over again that immigrants shouldn’t come to this country right now … That message is not being received,” Alcindor said as she began her questions, which were focused on the migrant crisis. “Instead, the perception of you that got you elected — as a moral, decent man — is the reason a lot of immigrants are coming to this country and are trusting you with unaccompanied minors.
“How do you resolve that tension and how are you choosing which families can stay and which ones can go … and is there a timeline for when we won’t be seeing these overcrowded facilities run by CBP when it comes to unaccompanied minors?” Alcindor asked.
In response, The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin, who was live-tweeting during the presser, attempted to fact-check Alcindor.
“Yamiche makes the statement unproven that his words set off the surge. This is factually wrong,” Rubin claimed.
That drew a response from Alcindor, who wrote, “Perhaps you haven’t interviewed migrants & asked them this Q, but reporting bears out what I said, which is that some migrants are coming because of the perception that Pres[ident] Biden is more humane & is allowing unaccompanied minors to stay. So unfortunately, you’re factually wrong.”
Perhaps you haven’t interviewed migrants & asked them this Q, but reporting bears out what I said which is that some migrants are coming because of the perception that Pres Biden is more humane & is allowing unaccompanied minors to stay. So unfortunately, you’re factually wrong.
— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche) March 25, 2021
“Please see the Washington Post’s report of data,” Rubin replied in a post containing a link to a recent WaPo “analysis.”
“Statistically the assumption much of the press has made is false. There is no uptick. This is seasonal. Could there be individuals? I guess. But review of the FACTS shows otherwise,” Rubin added.
Please see the Washington Post’s report of data. Statistically the assumption much of the press has made is false. There is no uptick. This is seasonal. Could there be individuals ? I guess . But review of the FACTS shows otherwise, https://t.co/f5u7XAUhyh
— Jennifer ‘pro-voting’ Rubin (@JRubinBlogger) March 25, 2021
Critics of the Biden administration’s border policies tend to agree with Alcindor, in that the president’s rescinding of Trump-era border enforcement policies has created a new surge ahead of when they normally occur, which is traditionally later in the spring.
(Video: Fox News)
But it was Alcindor’s style of questioning that drew criticism from media critics.
In an appearance on Fox News, The Hill’s Joe Concha blasted Alcindor’s questions to Biden as “patently embarrassing” and more akin to leftist political advocacy rather than journalism.
“This was a disgrace for most of the press corps and for the president — he said some outrageous things that demanded to be pressed on, and of course, no one in the room can decide to do it,” Concha began.
He went on to note Biden’s heavy reliance on notes instead of simply speaking his own words, adding that someone in the press should have asked him about it.
Concha saved his harshest criticism for Alcindor, however.
“She’s from PBS, your tax dollars at work,” Concha said. “This was patently embarrassing to the profession. She made the argument that the surge at the border is only happening because Mr. Biden is ‘a moral and decent man.’ She didn’t even bother to quote back Biden what he said as a candidate when he literally said to migrants, to surge the border.”
Concha added that Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador agreed that Biden’s previous rhetoric is adding to the current crisis.
“She then pressed Biden to back the filibuster in the name of civil rights, in other words, it wasn’t even a question. She was advocating for it while accusing Republicans of suppressing voting rights,” Concha continued. “This wasn’t only bias in broad daylight, it was activism.”
“This was an embarrassment to the press corps,” he added.
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