by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
It was 27 days for President Donald Trump and only 20 for his predecessor, President Barack Obama.
But 36 days after he was inaugurated, President Biden has yet to appear before journalists for a solo press conference.
The delay has irritated members of the White House press corps, from CNN to Fox News, and raised questions about Biden’s campaign promise to restore respect for the press after four years of Trump’s “fake news” attacks.
“He talks about the role of journalists as being a critical one, and yet, access to a president is really the barometer by which we judge the importance that a president assigns to the media,” said Brett Bruen, White House director of global engagement under Obama.
“The risk that the Biden folks run is they tend to be very tightly in control of the conditions in which they put the president out, and that may work for a while, but I believe it is counterproductive to the kind of connection that both the White House needs with journalists as well as the president needs with the people,” he added.
Biden has taken occasional questions from journalists during his appearances in front of the cameras delivering statements on COVID-19 or the economy. He has responded to reporters on his way to board Marine One before departing from or returning to the White House.
But he has yet to conduct a solo press conference since taking office last month.
So while Obama gave his first press conference on Feb. 9, 2009, and Trump appeared in the East Room of the White House for 77 freewheeling minutes on Feb.16, 2017, the nation has not yet seen Biden go head-to-head with a room full of journalists.
The result is conservative media dusting off their “hiding Joe” headlines from the campaign, when Biden ran a low-key strategy that allowed Trump to hog coverage.