For the last two weeks, some reporters in the White House press corps have been asking questions about when Joe Biden will be holding his first solo press conference.
CNN’s Kaitlan Collins was the first to ask Monday a week ago at the daily press briefing. She pointed out that “by this time in their presidencies, both President Trump and President Obama had held solo press conferences.” She then asked press secretary Jen Psaki if there were “plans for President Biden to hold a solo press conference any time soon?”
Psaki confirmed he’d be holding a solo presser at some point, but was non-committal as to an exact date. “He will hold a solo press conference,” Psaki stated. “But I don’t have a date for you at this point in time.”
This past Monday, another reporter asked Psaki if there was “any update” as to when Biden would be holding his first presser. She was again non-committal, stating that he would “definitely have one” and that his handlers “will schedule it, and you’ll be the first to know because you’re pivotal participants in that.”
While we all wait for Psaki to “circle back” and let us know when Biden can find the time to take questions from reporters in an unscripted formal setting, CNN of all “news” outlets did some digging to find out just where Biden ranked among other presidents over the last 100 years on holding the first formal presser of their presidencies.
In short, it’s not a record to be proud of for someone who promised to help restore White House “respect” for the press. Not at all:
.@Kevinliptakcnn notes that an analysis of the past 100 years shows President Biden’s 15 most recent predecessors all held a formal solo press conference within 33 days of taking office. Biden has not and it’s day 42.
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) March 3, 2021
— Kevin Liptak (@Kevinliptakcnn) March 3, 2021
Former Trump campaign deputy comms director Zach Parkinson composed a graph showing the actual numbers and … wow:
— Zach Parkinson (@AZachParkinson) March 3, 2021
Jason Miller, who was a senior advisor to Trump’s 2020 presidential campaign, took notice and responded accordingly as well:
Dates of previous first joint session speeches by a new president:
➡️Trump: Feb. 28, 2017
➡️Obama: Feb. 24, 2009
➡️Bush 2: Feb. 27, 2001
➡️Clinton: Feb. 17, 1993
➡️Bush 1: Feb. 9, 1989
Biden hasn’t scheduled a joint session speech yet, and hasn’t even held a press conference!
— Jason Miller (@JasonMillerinDC) March 3, 2021
Those issues, along with the transparency questions that are being raised, will continue to fuel the worst kind of speculation a new president can face so soon into their presidency. And though the press has some culpability in this seeing as how they gave him a pass all last year during his basement campaign, that doesn’t negate the problem.
Though many in the press corps are more or less mouthpieces for Democrats, there are others who will step up to the plate and ask the tough questions of Biden – but only if given the chance.
CBS News reporter Kathryn Watson tweeted last week that there was “no good reason not to have a press conference more than one month into Biden’s presidency,” which is a true statement. But there could be a bad reason why we haven’t seen one at this point, which is why journalists should continue to press Psaki for answers, and Biden as well in the informal settings where they can.
Because if the secrecy keeps up, even the friendliest of the Biden-friendly reporters in the White House press corps are going to join in on asking the uncomfortable questions that for now are only being openly asked by the foreign press.