Not All D.C. TV Stations Broadcast President Biden Press Conference

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

Hometown TV stations were a mixed bag when it came to broadcasting President Joe Biden's press conference Wednesday from the White House, one of few such extensive solo media availabilities the President has provided during his presidency so far.

They did all stream it on their websites, however.

While the cable news nets -- CNN, Fox News, CNBC, MSNBC -- all carried the press conference, among the Big Four TV station affiliates, only CBS affiliate WUSA-TV and Fox affiliate WTTG-TV broke from regular programming -- Dr. Phil on WUSA-TV and local news on WTTG-TV -- to carry the news conference live on their air.

ABC affiliate WJLA-TV and NBC's WRC-TV stuck with local news.

WUSA-TV and WTTG-TV did cut out at 5 p.m., before the conference ended, for their local news. WUSA-TV pointed out that it was continuing to stream the press conference on its website, as did WTTG, as well as WJLA and WRC-TV.

ABC had previously announced it would be supplying its affiliates with special report coverage of the news conference, hosted by World News Tonight anchor David Muir with reporting from chief White House correspondent Cecilia Vega, chief Washington correspondent Jonathan Karl, senior White House correspondent Mary Bruce and congressional correspondent Rachel Scott.

Among some of the pieces of news out of the conference were that the President says he will probably have to break up his massive Build Back Better social spending package to get some of it done now, and more later; that he thinks Vladimir Putin will probably make some move into Ukraine--"My guess is he [Putin] will move in," the President said, adding: "He has to do something"; and that Vice President Kamala Harris would be on the ticket if he ran again in 2024. He also said that his administration has done a good job with handling the pandemic and that there was a potential that the 2022 election could be illegitimate.

"How many more hours am I doing this," the President asked, before answering a question from Fox's Peter Doocy, whose questions Biden joked historically did not make much sense to him. He then pointed out it had been an hour and 20 minutes and that he would go another 20 minutes.

Most of the questions were pointed given the rise in inflation, the COVID-19 spike, the inability to secure congressional passage of voting rights legislation or his Build Back Better package, and his dropping poll numbers, eliciting sometimes defensive and combative responses from the President. He repeatedly said Republicans, intimidated by former President Donald Trump, were bent on obstructing anything he tried to do that might make him look good in advance of the midterms next year. ■

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.