Have US media gone too easy on Biden?
President Donald Trump's testy relationship with the US media is no secret, but his election rival Joe Biden has had a rather different experience during the 2020 campaign.
The Democratic former senator and vice president has largely faced polite questions and only rare criticism, experts say, but some call the disparity a justified one given the Republican leader's provocative style.
Trump has spent the better part of a week repeatedly attacking his opponent over unsubstantiated allegations concerning Biden, his son Hunter and a Ukrainian company suspected of corruption -- and the media has followed suit.
But Biden only faced a question about the issue more than two days into the news hurricane, and he quickly swept it aside. The following day, Biden did not speak to reporters.
Finally, on Sunday, he replied to only one question... about the flavor of his milkshake.
"Question of the day for Joe Biden," tweeted New York Times reporter Jonathan Martin. "Are you in hiding most of this week because you are only willing to answer milkshake-related questions?"
Trump has often accused the media of going soft on his adversary.
Criticism of how Biden is covered transcends the specific issue of his son's business dealings, and is not limited to conservative commentators, who have roundly denounced the mainstream media coverage.
Last week, when Trump and Biden participated in town hall-style events in place of a planned debate, the gap seemed stark: The president was grilled by NBC's Savannah Guthrie, while observers felt Biden got an easier ride from ABC's George Stephanopoulos, a former top aide to president Bill Clinton.
Similarly in mid-September, Trump was questioned by Stephanopoulos during an ABC event that Politico described as an "icy grilling," while characterizing a subsequent CNN town hall with Biden as reminiscent of "an affable reunion of old acquaintances."
For Grant Reeher, a professor of political science at Syracuse University, the issue is not "as much how softly the media is treating Biden as it is how harshly the media is treating President Trump."
The editorial boards at most of the top US newspapers including The New York Times and The Washington Post have endorsed Biden.
Dean Baquet, executive editor of the Times, admits that his paper's job is to "very aggressively sort out fact from fiction" in covering Trump, while remaining "journalistically moral."
Some experts say the tougher approach to Trump is entirely merited.
"When you have a candidate that refers to the free press as the enemy and incites violence against members of the press, refuses to answer any straight questions and spills lie after lie about his record, to try to compare coverage of one candidate against the other in this situation is off-base," says Gabriel Kahn, a professor of journalism at the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.
But the former Washington Post and Huffington Post journalist admitted: "In a normal election cycle, problems like the ones Biden has would fuel way more media coverage than they are currently getting."
He wrote that Biden must not be lulled into a false sense of security that "he is immune to press scrutiny."
"Presidents need to be held accountable, and the period after Trump should be all about restoring accountability and transparency. That won't happen with a supine press corps."