For the past two weeks, a growing number of reporters have been raising questions about when Joe Biden will hold the first solo press conference of his presidency to directly address the media in a formal setting.
A recent analysis shows Biden is setting a record among presidents over the last 100 years in waiting so long to hold his first presser.
CNN’s Kaitlan Collins, CBS News’s Kathryn Watson, and other journalists in the White House press corps have either raised the issue with White House press secretary Jen Psaki directly or have brought up the issue up on social media.
Every time Psaki has been asked the issue, she has been non-committal, telling reporters that they’ll be the first to know when one is scheduled.
Right out of the gate at today’s press briefing, the question came up courtesy of the Associated Press. And while Psaki was again vague on specifics on a date, the answer she gave should cause an outcry among the press corps. I’ll explain why after you’ve had a chance to check out the transcript and video:
AP: “So, we’re 45 days into the Biden presidency and he has yet to hold a presser. At this point in past presidencies, every president from Reagan had addressed reporters, some of them multiple times. So why the delay and when can we expect the president to hold a press conference?”
Psaki: “Well first, as all of you know, the president takes questions several times a week. He took questions actually twice yesterday, which is an opportunity for the people covering the White House to ask him about whatever news is happening on any given day. We look forward to holding a full press conference in the coming weeks before the end of the month, and we’re working on setting the final date for that. And as soon as we do, we will let you all know.
But, this president came in during two historic crises, a pandemic like the country had not seen in decades and decades and an economic downturn that left 10 million people out of work. So I think the American people would certainly understand if his focus and his energy and his attention has been on ensuring we secure enough vaccines to vaccinate all Americans, which we will do by the end of May. And then pushing for a rescue plan that will provide direct checks to almost 160 million Americans. That’s where his time, energy, his focus has been. But in the meantime, he takes questions multiple times a week and looks forward to continuing to do that, and as soon as we have a press conference set, we’ll let you know.”
AP: “Those sprays, though, are not an ideal forum for us to be asking questions. He can’t hear us half the time, we get maybe two questions in and we’re shuffled out. So why hasn’t he answered questions from the press at this point? Is it just that he’s too busy?”
Psaki: “I think he’s answered questions – I believe the count is almost 40 times. And I would say his focus, again is, getting recovery and relief to the American people, and he looks forward to continuing to engage with all of you, and to other members of the media who aren’t here today, and we’ll look forward to letting you know as soon as that press conference is set.”
Here was the first question at the WH briefing — @AP's @ajjaffe asking why President Biden is hiding from the American people and still not having a solo press conference after being in office for 45 days — by far the longest streak in modern U.S. history. pic.twitter.com/aefrTRx5y9
— Curtis Houck (@CurtisHouck) March 5, 2021
Psaki’s answers were not only pathetic but disturbing and insulting. They were equivalent to a mother or father figure throwing stale table scraps at hungry children and telling them to learn to like it because they were too busy to give them anything better than that.
As they like to frequently remind us, Joe Biden is the president of the United States. He came in promising to restore “trust and respect” between the White House and the press, and as happened under the Obama-Biden administration, Biden vowed to have the most transparent administration in history.
Yet 45 days in and he is doing neither.
His press secretary saying “he’s busy trying to help the American people” just does not cut it in any way, shape, or form. Every president has that job but they still find time to address the press and take questions. For all of our criticisms of the media, there are still those out there who will ask Biden tough questions – but only if given the opportunity to do so.
CBS’s Kathryn Watson tweeted last week that “there is no good reason not to have a press conference more than one month into Biden’s presidency,” and she was right. Biden can keep playing these games all he wants to, but the more he does, the more speculation will ramp up over just what’s going on and who might really be running things in Washington, D.C. since he can’t find the time to answer a question beyond an informal spray as he’s leaving the room.
It’s his choice: Either talk to the press and answer some damn questions or continue to get mocked and ridiculed overseas by the foreign press and here at home for inexplicably hiding in whatever the White House’s equivalent is to his Delaware basement.