President Joe Biden has reached his 5oth day in office. While he has certainly made noise with many of his actions, he has yet to hold a formal news conference.
Biden’s early days have been characterized by an unprecedented number of executive orders and the fight to pass his $1.9 trillion stimulus package even as the COVID-19 crisis winds down.
Many Americans have questions about these moves, and yet Biden has not provided much of an opportunity for reporters to ask those questions.
Biden occasionally has answered questions after his White House appearances, but those instances are short and informal. Sometimes, the White House just decides to cut off the feed before he even has the chance to speak with reporters.
Ten days ago, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden had not yet made plans for a news conference, but she signaled it could be coming soon.
“We will definitely have one, we’ll schedule it, and you’ll be the first to know, because you’re pivotal participants in that,” she said.
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) March 1, 2021
When she originally made that comment, many wondered whether the White House was shielding him from the public as much as possible.
At this point, that is definitely still a strong possibility. After all, Biden did forget the names of both the Pentagon and his secretary of defense this week.
Whoops: Biden forgets the name of the Pentagon, as well as the name of his secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin pic.twitter.com/ZtcgHLBIAO
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) March 8, 2021
However, with each day that passes without a formal news conference, more serious questions arise. One of the most important questions is how he will be held accountable.
ABC News reported that every president in the last 100 years has faced “extended questions from reporters” earlier than Biden has.
Biden’s failure to hold a formal news conference is “raising questions about accountability with the White House under increasing pressure to explain why,” it said.
Former White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told Fox News that while Biden’s failure to hold a formal news conference is disappointing, she saw it coming.
“It is extraordinary but predictable,” she said. “I remember I warned reporters, in a joking way, when it was clear Biden was the incoming president, they should get used to the feeling of not seeing a president regularly.”
Joe Concha, a media and politics columnist for The Hill, went even further.
“Everybody else before him, at least in the modern era, got their ducks in a row weeks ago in terms of meeting with the press,” he told Fox News’ John Roberts.
“What that tells me, John, is that this team, as far as those handling the president, have zero confidence that this president can handle questions outside of … handpicked reporters.”
Psaki and the rest of Biden’s administration have argued that he is too busy dealing with the COVID-19 crisis to hold a formal news conference.
“This president came in during a historic crisis,” Psaki said Monday when asked about his lack of news conferences.
“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 … and then pushing a rescue plan that will provide direct checks to almost 160 million Americans.”
.@PressSec says that President Biden will hold a full press conference by the end of the month:
“We’re working on setting a final date for that.” pic.twitter.com/vxAYqcP4Qe
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) March 5, 2021
In contrast, McEnany argued that this crisis is the exact reason that Biden should be holding news conferences.
“Part of your responsibility during a pandemic is communicating with the American people,” she said. “They want to hear from who they voted for. The press secretary briefings are not enough.”
No matter what the true reasoning is, the fact is that Biden has failed to face a formal period of questioning from reporters as his presidency reaches its 50th day. That is a milestone no president in the last 100 years has reached.
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