WaPo, Bloomberg, AP scold Biden for ‘sowing confusion’ with ‘off-the-cuff’ remark on ‘genocide’ in Ukraine

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Several media outlets criticized President Joe Biden this week for calling Russia’s actions in Ukraine “genocide,” admonishing the president for his “off-the-cuff” comment. 

The criticism comes after Biden remarked that Russia’s crimes during its invasion of neighboring Ukraine amount to “genocide” while speaking about energy prices in Iowa on Tuesday. After the speech, Biden told reporters that his remarks were indeed intentional, though he indicated he was aware that the State Department may feel differently.

STATE DEPARTMENT SUGGESTS BIDEN ‘GENOCIDE’ COMMENT IS HIS OPINION AND NOT A ‘LEGAL’ DETERMINATION

Svyatogorsk Lavra in the Donetsk region after it was targeted 

Svyatogorsk Lavra in the Donetsk region after it was targeted 
(State Service of Special Communications and Information Protection of Ukraine )

AP News had the strongest response to Biden’s rhetoric, beginning its April 14 piece on the topic with a lecture on there being “no such thing as a purely personal opinion from the Oval Office on policies that matter.”

“Armchair quarterbacking when you’re the president is fraught when you’re the one with the ball,” the piece stated, adding that “has not stopped President Joe Biden from viscerally weighing in on the Ukraine war.”

AP News pulled no punches, claiming Biden’s opinion is “sowing confusion in dangerous times.” 

The same article compared Biden’s rhetoric to that of former President Trump’s, saying, “Not unlike his predecessor, he is reacting at times to what he sees on TV. He’s not always to be taken literally, it is argued.”

RUSSIA REACTS HARSHLY AFTER BIDEN CALLS UKRAINE INVASION ‘GENOCIDE,’ ACCUSES US OF ‘CRIMES’

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki talks to reporters during the daily news conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on April 06, 2022 in Washington, DC. Psaki fielded questions about the failure of a COVID-19 funding bill to pass out of the U.S. Senate.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki talks to reporters during the daily news conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on April 06, 2022 in Washington, DC. Psaki fielded questions about the failure of a COVID-19 funding bill to pass out of the U.S. Senate.
(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Washington Post reporter Tyler Pager was less condemning of Biden but still wrote, “Biden’s off-the-cuff moment marked the latest example of his often-emotional response to Putin’s brutal war and the international implications of a president’s words.”

Pager acknowledged White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki’s insistence that this was about the president doing what he said he would do: “he promised the American people he would shoot from the shoulder … and tell it to them straight,” she claimed.

“But that reaction is at odds with the State Department’s painstaking process for reaching a genocide determination, which among other things requires clear documentation that the perpetrators intended to wipe out a group in whole or in part,” the piece noted.

A woman collect wooden planks in a street destroyed by shellings in Chernihiv, Ukraine, Wednesday, April 13, 2022.

A woman collect wooden planks in a street destroyed by shellings in Chernihiv, Ukraine, Wednesday, April 13, 2022.
( (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka))

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Bloomberg News claimed that while Biden has “avoided shot-term political consequences” for his comment, his actions could still have “long-term implications.” 

The piece then discussed how previous “U.S. presidents have avoided evoking genocide out of fear of eroding the word’s meaning – seeking to reserve the classification for only the most heinous of actions,” implying that Biden is crossing that line here. 

Bloomberg then warned that “a genocide declaration could also amplify calls for a U.S. military intervention.”

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