Jack Shafer: “The Biden honeymoon with the press will be over before he knows it.”

From a Fourth Estate column by Jack Shafer on politico.com headlined “The Biden Honeymoon Won’t Last”:

One sure thing about honeymoons—of both the matrimonial and presidential varieties—is that they end. A marital honeymoon can last for months, sometimes years, but the political rule of thumb states an upper limit of 100 days of harmony and happiness between an incoming president and the press before reporters open a document on their computers titled “writ of divorce.”

Donald Trump pulled this rule of thumb out of its socket immediately after his 2017 inauguration, picking a hellacious fight with the White House press corps over the inauguration-crowd size. Thanks to Trump’s and press secretary Sean Spicer’s unbelievable claims about audience size, the Trump honeymoon was terminated and the reservation on the bridal suite refunded.

As Joe Biden files his change of address for 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., he can expect to enjoy a cushy honeymoon of the sort that once came automatically with the keys to the White House in the pre-Jimmy Carter days. . . .

It’s not that the press isn’t willing to take shots at a new administration, it’s that they’re busy lining up the shots they might want to take. Busy compiling dossiers on the president’s team and developing sources in the new administrations, reporters can’t devote as much time to scrutinize him as directly as they’d like. Besides, they just got done doing that during the campaign. We caught a glimpse of Biden’s poor press management skills at the end of the campaign as he snapped at being asked legitimate questions about court-packing and again when the subject was the New York Post piece on his son Hunter. Reporters don’t mind politicians with short fuses or being abused because that’s all part of the job, but at some point, the payback always comes. . . .

This doesn’t mean every journalist is deliberately buttering up the new president with “beat sweeteners“ in the early going. The more charitable interpretation would be that many of them are planting roots for critical stories to be harvested later. . . .

Barring some unforeseen early crisis that he mangles, some monumental failure to properly vet an important Cabinet officer, or some unexpected scandal, Biden has something going for his honeymoon that no other president has ever had. He isn’t Donald Trump, and for this he will be rewarded. He doesn’t tweetstorm. He doesn’t call people names. He doesn’t lie anywhere near as often as his predecessor. He doesn’t call the press the enemy of the people. And he’s a little boring. Practically anybody who had beaten Trump would have reaped a similar dividend, it was just Biden’s good fortune to be the one to collect it.

Fate has favored Biden, but fate is also fickle. Here’s hoping Biden enjoys his honeymoon because it will be over before he knows it.

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