The media is finally taking notice of the current administration’s aversion to letting the press speak directly with President Joe Biden, with the president taking nearly six times fewer interviews than former President Donald Trump by this time in his administration.
The press has been allowed to interview Biden in an extended one-on-one setting 10 times since Inauguration Day, compared to Trump’s 57 times. Biden compares even worse to former President Barack Obama, who had done 131 extended interviews by this time in his administration, according to Politico.
NEW: at this point in 2009 and 2017, Obama had done 131 extensive interviews and Trump had participated in 57
Biden has done just 10
None since Labor Day and just 1 since May
— Alex Thompson (@AlexThomp) October 19, 2021
It has been nearly 100 days since Biden held a formal press conference, a fact the Republican Party has pointed out on Twitter. He also has yet to sit down with a reporter from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Associated Press, or Reuters.
“Biden has been especially wary of talking to print publications; he has yet to do an interview with reporters from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Associated Press, or Reuters,” @AlexThomp @TinaSfon note. https://t.co/o9x13dU2Ub
— Dan Diamond (@ddiamond) October 20, 2021
Keeping the president away from the media has been a go-to strategy for Biden’s team since he was on the campaign trail. The president went more than a week between Sept. 15 and 24 without taking a single question from the media in the wake of his much-criticized withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan and in the midst of a resurgent border crisis. (RELATED: Biden Refuses To Answer Questions On Afghanistan, Says ‘I’m Not Supposed To Take Any Questions’)
The dry spell culminated in a bilateral press conference with Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in which U.K. reporters were allowed questions, but American reporters were shouted down. White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA) President Steven Portnoy described the press reaction in a pool report: “The entire editorial component of the US pool went immediately into Jen Psaki’s office to register a formal complaint that no American reporters were recognized for questions in the president’s Oval Office, and that wranglers loudly shouted over the president as he seemed to give an answer to Ed O’Keefe’s question about the situation at the southern border.”
White House staff members have admitted they worry any time Biden appears before the press on camera, fearing he will make another gaffe or abandon his prepared remarks and go off on tangents.
“I know people who habitually don’t watch it live for that reason,” one White House official told Politico in September.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki indicated a similar sentiment earlier this year. When Biden does appear before the press, he nearly always comes armed with a list of pre-approved reporters to call on.
“A lot of times we say, ‘Don’t take questions,’” Psaki told Democratic strategist David Axelrod on his podcast in May. “But he’s going to do what he wants to do because he’s the president of the United States.”