Biden: Cable Looks Like It’s ‘Going South’

President Joe Biden during a press conference on January 19, 2022.
President Joe Biden during his January 19 press conference. (Image credit: C-SPAN)

President Joe Biden took some time during his press conference Wednesday (January 19), one of only a handful of solo outings with the White House press corps, to suggest that media coverage has become polarized, much as the two political parties have been.

He also ventured into some cord-cutting speculation that cable was “going south” in terms of viewership.

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The president veered off into media speculation as he was talking about the reporting on his poll numbers, whose own southward turn has gotten a lot of ink and airtime.

He said that reporting one poll that had his approval rating in the low 30s missed the fact that the average was in the mid-40s, about on par with other recent presidents in their first two years in office.

He said the public was trying to "sift their way through what's real and what's fake."

He said he had never seen a time where the choice of what political coverage people turn to impacted as much on what they believed, “whether it's MSNBC or its Fox.”

He said he found “fascinating” and something that “will impact on how things move” was that “a lot of the speculation and the polling data shows that the cables are heading south; they're losing viewership,“ he said. “Fox is OK for a while, but a lot of the rest are predicted to be not very much in the mix in the next four to five years,” though he added he was not sure whether that was true.

But he said he did know that people had “put themselves in certain alleys.” He asked how many people who watched MSNBC also watch Fox News Channel. Conceding he was not an expert, Biden said what gets covered now is different from what got covered in the past.

The nature of the way things get covered has changed, he said, because of the internet and “the self-identified perspectives based on what channel you turn on.” ■

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.