Fox hosts mock Biden as out of touch and call presser ‘political field sobriety test that he failed’

Conservative news network commentators portray president’s first news conference of 2022 as a failure

John Bowden
Thursday 20 January 2022 00:46
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Joe Biden shrugs off question on ‘mental fitness’ from conservative reporter

Hosts of Fox News’s The Five trashed President Joe Biden’s first press conference of 2022 on Fox News after it concluded on Wednesday, accusing the president of being out of touch with Americans while shying away from the criticisms about his fitness or mental fortitude that other conservatives have made.

There was little mention of the feelings former President Donald Trump tried to evoke with his “Sleepy Joe Biden” attacks after the presser, which lasted roughly two hours and saw the president regularly sparring with both conservative journalists and those at other news outlets.

Fox hosts Greg Gutfeld and Jesse Watters were vocal in other criticisms however, including honing in on Mr Biden’s dismissal of concerns about schools unable to find enough teachers for in-person learning as well as the issue of law enforcement.

President Joe Biden vows he's ‘not going back’ on school closures

“There was nothing about crime, good teachers, safer streets,” lamented Gutfeld after the news conference ended.

The hosts questioned the president’s focus on a push for voting rights legislation that is likely to fail, with Watters quipping that Mr Biden’s presser was “[a] political field sobriety test that he failed”.

“Obviously reading from a lot of notes, he was over-coached,” Mr Watters added, while conceding: “I don’t think I've ever heard him talk that long before.”

Watters also honed in on a remark from Mr Biden vowing support for candidates across the US running for Congress either as incumbents or challengers in 2022 as his party seeks to retain control of both the House and Senate. Some have already requested his presence on the campaign trail, Mr Biden noted.

“He said he was going to get deeply involved in the midterm elections, and I think Republicans will be very happy” to hear that,” Watters said.

Fox’s primetime host Sean Hannity was not set to appear on TV for several hours, but previewed his response on Twitter by sharing a post from his news blog, which ripped the president as “clueless” for claiming that he “probably outperformed what anyone thought would happen” in his first year with the passage of bipartisan infrastructure legislation and the American Rescue Plan.

“Yeah Joe —you’re doing great,” read the post from one of Hannity’s bloggers.

The Ingraham Angle host Laura Ingraham live-tweeted the press conference, and many of her tweets were focused less on Mr Biden himself and rather the White House press corps for multiple questions about the fears of impending invasion in Ukraine by Russia, which is currently amassing military forces on the border of the two countries.

She also quipped as it wrapped up: “So the Biden team’s view is that the country is doing great, and the only problem is that we need more Biden.”

Slightly later in the post-presser coverage Fox’s Pete Hegseth joined the conversation on Fox News Primetime, accusing the president of trying to “gaslight” the country about whether or not he has been successful as president “while it goes to hell” around them.

The visceral reaction from the hosts on the right-leaning network was not unexpected but painted a picture of the continued resistance that much of the GOP, and in particular its Trump-supporting conservative base, feels towards Mr Biden despite his 2020 campaign promises to unify the country.

Mr Biden faced questions from several reporters on Wednesday about whether he had done enough to unify the country, given the continued battleground and lack of significant progress on just about any issue in the equally-divided US Senate. He responded by admitting some mistakes were made through his first year in office, but asserted that no major changes in course were on the way and that he would keep fighting to pass parts of his agenda through Congress. He also affirmed that he would run again in 2024, and that Vice President Kamala Harris would remain his running mate.

That resistance from the right to his attempts to build bridges could materialise as further obstacles in his efforts to reach out to moderate Republicans in the Senate, five of whom on Wednesday Mr Biden asserted would be working with him already were it not for their fears of a Trump-backed primary challenge in their states.

“I’ve had five Republican senators ... who have told me they agree with whatever I am talking about for them to do. ‘But Joe, if I do it, I am going to be defeated in the primary.’ We have to break that. It’s got to change,” said the president, while declining to name the senators who supposedly would support his agenda.

"Did you ever think that one man out of office could intimidate an entire party where they're unwilling to take any vote contrary to what he thinks should be taken for fear of being defeated in a primary?" he continued, speaking of former President Donald Trump.

Mr Biden heads into his second year in office facing low approval ratings with several key constituencies as well as the country at large as he struggles to make progress on several issues including voting rights and his social safety net legislation before the 2022 midterms.

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