It’s been nearly eight weeks now and President Joe Biden still hasn’t held a solo press conference, the longest a president has gone without addressing the press in nearly 100 years. Former President Barack Obama held his first press conference within 20 days of taking office and former President Donald Trump within 27 days of assuming office. Even though the White House has been in talks of holding a press conference on March 25th, they have yet to acknowledge what took them so long. So much for being ‘straight’ and ‘transparent.’
While Biden has signed numerous executive orders, passed on the $1.9 trillion spending package, and talked about fighting COVID-19 in a recent presidential address, he has refused to answer any questions related to the crisis at the border, the demanded resignation of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and what he plans to do about several of the key issues he campaigned about. On top of that, President Biden has proposed a hefty tax hike that would eventually impact the middle class but has refused to face reporters alone.
When asked by White House press secretary Jen Psaki on when President Biden will be scheduling a solo press conference, she said that he was too busy “prioritizing” the COVID-19 relief legislation over preparing a traditional speech. She said that the president has done “about 40 Q&A’s since he took office,” but the back-and-forth exchanges between the press have been devoid of any meaning and typically last just seconds before White House staff members yell “Thank you!” and “Let’s go!” while ushering journalists out.
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“We’re working on setting a final date for that and as soon as we do we will let you all know. This president came in during a historic crisis. I think the American people understand that his focus energy and attention has been on ensuring we secure enough vaccines… and pushing for an American rescue plan,” Psaki said.
Chief of staff Ron Klain also referenced the ‘rescue plan’ numerous times, noting that it will take a few weeks to explain the plan and get it passed. They said the president takes questions ‘several times a week’ for the people covering the White House and to ask about whatever news is happening on any given day.
However, President Biden was seen visiting W.S Jens & Son, a small business in Washington D.C that has benefited from the Paycheck Protection Program, but refused to answer any of the questions shouted to him by reporters regarding the crisis at the Border. He froze absent-mindedly in the store before federal officials ushered the press away.
Even mainstream media platforms, such as The Washington Post editorial board, are noticing the President is avoiding news conferences at all costs. The piece adds that presidential announcements do not substitute solo news conferences. They point out the importance of these press conferences and reporters being able to ask follow-up questions, as well as getting the President’s thoughts on a wide range of issues with “more than a couple of words long.”
“Avoiding news conferences must not become a regular habit for Mr. Biden. He is the president, and Americans have every right to expect that he will regularly submit himself to substantial questioning,” Washington Post media critic Erik Wemple wrote.
While Biden participated in a 21-minute question-and-answer exchange with the press on his fourth day in office, it was not a formal press conference. There were a restricted number of reporters and Biden only took eight questions from six reporters. Even former press secretary for President Bill Clinton, Mike McCurry, said that taking a few questions in passing does not substitute for a formal press conference.
While the White House has announced a press conference for Biden on March 25, it’ll most likely be 5 pre-selected questions from pre-selected reporters with pre-written answers on a very large teleprompter screen. And nothing more.