Jacqui Heinrich dishes on access to Biden and ‘respect’ for Fox News viewers

During an event at the White House earlier this month, Fox News correspondent Jacqui Heinrich shouted to President Biden, “Do you think the border is secure?”

“No,” the president shot back, “I haven’t believed that for the last 10 years.”

“And I’ve said it for the last 10 years,” Biden continued before suggesting congressional Republicans are to blame for the situation by holding up negotiations on a government spending deal that would include a large infusion of border funding.

“Give me the money,” he said.

It was a rare but direct back-and-forth between Heinrich, one of Fox’s leading reporters in Washington, and the president, who has made his thoughts on the coverage from Heinrich‘s network abundantly clear.

Biden infamously called Heinrich’s colleague Peter Doocy a “stupid son of a bitch” during a similar exchange nearly two years ago, and his aides have forcefully pushed back during his entire time in office on what they say is unfair coverage of the administration coming from Fox.

Still, during a recent interview with The Hill, Heinrich called the dynamic between the administration and Fox News’s reporters at the White House “a good relationship.”

“The only frustration is that oftentimes we sit through these briefings and don’t get a lot of information out of them,” says Heinrich, a board member of the White House Correspondents’ Association, which has for years lobbied for more access to the president and top Cabinet officials.

Biden is not like his predecessors in the Oval Office, who would often participate in freewheeling press conferences at the White House podium and banter with reporters at a more frequent clip, Heinrich said.

“It’s going to be an open question to see if his posture shifts, if Biden decides to do more one-on-one interviews,” she said. “I don’t see signals of that, but we’ll see where it goes.”

Biden has not sat for an exclusive interview with a journalist from Fox, the top-watched cable news channel, since being elected president.

Heinrich said he is “missing an opportunity to reach a huge swath of the electorate” ahead of his reelection bid in November, adding that independent voters who are either uncomfortable or undecided on voting for former President Trump represent “a huge chunk of our audience.”

“Our viewers consume all of this stuff,” she said.

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The White House did not respond to a request for comment.

In recent weeks, however, aides and surrogates for Biden have made multiple appearances on Fox’s airwaves to advocate for the president’s policies and positions.

They have also not shied away from publicly blasting coverage of the president, from Fox News but also elsewhere across the mainstream media.

“They really want the media to cover Trump in 2024 like they covered him on Jan. 7, 2021, because they think those issues are going to compel voters to go out to the ballot box,” Heinrich said of Biden’s advisers. “They’re not focused on the issues that people are talking about in the polls like the economy, inflation and the border.”

Fox News’s coverage of Biden and the coming election will be under a microscope before and after the vote.

The network paid a historic sum to Dominion Voting Systems last spring to settle claims of defamation stemming from its coverage of post-election claims of fraud coming from Trump and his allies, a settlement that Biden called out in a recent speech during a campaign rally.

Since then, Fox has worked to shore itself up among credible news outlets and draw a contrast between the reporting of journalists, such as Heinrich, and its highly rated opinion programming hosts, who are vocally negative on Biden and supportive of Trump.

“I think when you’re watching Fox, you can tell pretty clearly what’s news and what’s opinion,” Heinrich said of the distinction. “And certainly, people in the administration know my work. I have relationships with people … you have to because it’s difficult to get direct answers from the White House.”

Criticism from other members of the media or even Fox’s viewers is not something Heinrich dwells on, she says.

“It’s always been my motto not to speak to a targeted audience, you’re never going to please everybody and that shouldn’t be your aim,” Heinrich said. “If you really respect your viewers, you want them to trust you for the truth, whether or not it’s uncomfortable to hear.”

A native of New Hampshire — the first primary state in the nation, which recently saw easy victories for both Trump and Biden — Heinrich joined Fox in 2018 as a general assignment reporter based in New York.

She climbed through Fox’s ranks reporting on the campaign trail for the 2020 presidential election before a stint covering Congress and eventually Biden’s White House.

A graduate of George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs, Heinrich worked as an intern on Capitol Hill before jumping into the media with stints at MSNBC and WRC-TV, D.C.’s local NBC affiliate.

Covering the White House, Heinrich said, is the most difficult but most rewarding stop she’s had on her relatively young career thus far.

“You have to have a really nuanced understanding of how everything works, the different branches of government … and how it’s carried out,” she said. “That’s fascinating to me.”

And Heinrich, who sometimes fills in as a guest host on Fox and has experience anchoring newscasts from previous jobs, did not rule out the possibility of settling into a gig behind the desk “one day.”

“I love this for now,” she said. “And for the foreseeable future, I still like to fill in. … I really like what I’m doing, I feel like there’s more to do. I want to keep doing it until I’m too tired, basically. And I’m not tired yet.”

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