Jen Psaki Reveals White House's Media Avoidance Strategy for Biden

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

We were told back in March by White House press secretary Jen Psaki that President Biden spent the better part of over two months avoiding taking questions from the media in a formal setting because he was in the middle of managing a pandemic and the economic challenges that came with it. She said at the time in so many words that the American people could surely understand that his focus was on those priorities rather than taking questions from reporters in a time of crisis when there was so much to do.

With Biden’s first (and unimpressive) formal presser well out of the way and with the White House press corps well trained by Psaki at this point as to how far they will be allowed to go in getting access to the President, Psaki is now feeling a little freer to let her hair down and give a little straight talk for a change on the White House’s coordinated media avoidance strategy for Biden and how it doesn’t always go as planned.

During a Thursday podcast interview with CNN political commentator and former Obama senior adviser David Axelrod, here’s how Psaki broke it down (bolded emphasis added):

Psaki laughed off the incident [where Biden talked to a CNN reporter off the cuff], and explained that it happened after she had already left work and Biden was heading back to his residence. She then claimed that Biden takes questions “nearly every day that he’s out in front of the press.”

“That is not something we recommend. In fact, a lot of times we say ‘don’t take questions,'” she continued. “But he’s going to do what he wants to do because he’s the president of the United States.”

Psaki then claimed the administration has kept from being distracted by avoiding having Biden do more consistent press conferences in which he would have to answer questions about certain topics. She gave examples of Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., impeachment, and Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo. She added that they wanted to focus his time on addressing subjects that they claim the American people care more about, such as the coronavirus pandemic and the economy.

Listen to a partial clip from the interview below:

So, what did we just learn from Psaki’s remarks to Axelrod? That in addition to keeping the number of Biden’s formal press conferences to a bare minimum (which was not mentioned but sort of goes without saying in the context of this discussion), the White House comms team with Psaki at the helm urges him to not take questions from reporters at informal settings as well. This despite her prior laughable claims about how taking a stray question here and there (and in settings where he often can’t hear them) as he was entering or leaving a room constituted “taking questions daily.”

If they’d rather him not do formal pressers in the briefing room and also advise against him taking random questions from journalists when he’s walking to Marine One or out of a room after an announcement has been made, etc., then when the hell is the appropriate time for the leader of the free world to take questions?

I assume the answer is during cable news network interviews and town halls, both of which are highly scripted and staged and of course, will be with Biden-friendly “reporters.”

To make matters worse, the clowns at CNN and elsewhere who howled at the moon played stompy feet games during the four years President Trump was in office over how he handled the press have zero you-know-whats to give in response to Psaki’s revelation. In fact, hall monitor Brian Stelter dutifully quoted from the podcast as though Psaki talked about what Biden’s favorite newspapers were rather than just admitting they prefer he not talk to the media at all outside of in very controlled environments. But I guess we shouldn’t expect any better from the network that has effectively become the unofficial state-run TV outlet of this administration.

We’ve known all along that the White House had a media avoidance strategy for Biden. We just didn’t know how hard his handlers were working behind the scenes to get him to avoid answering questions in any setting outside of one where his team could tightly control the situation, much like they did last year with the basement campaign.

Absolutely pathetic. What exactly is it they’re trying to hide here? It’s like they just begging people to speculate as to who’s really running things at the White House or something. As I’ve said before, none of this is normal, not the way he avoids the press, not the way he incoherently answers questions when he does take them, not the way the mainstream media just shrugs all of this off as if it’s no big deal – none of it.

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