President Joe Biden has been in office for nearly two months and has yet to hold a formal press conference, the longest any president in the last 40 years has gone without doing so, according to the Associated Press. By this point in former President Donald Trump’s administration, he had already given five press conferences. And Trump’s former press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, took to Twitter to call Biden out on his absence.
On March 8, McEnany retweeted a video of President Biden speaking at a White House event commemorating International Women’s Day. In the video, Biden stumbled over his words, appearing to have forgotten the name of his Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin, as well as the institution he heads, the Pentagon. Biden referred to Austin as “the guy who runs that outfit over there.” McEnany added her own commentary to the tweet: “This is why President Biden doesn’t hold press conferences. Wow!”
While McEnany has never been shy about voicing her criticisms of Biden, she’s not the only one who has reacted to his lack of press conferences.
It's not just Republicans calling Biden out
Though Biden has sat for interviews and town halls, it’s true that he has not yet held a formal press conference, and calls for Biden to finally answer questions from the press are coming not just from critics, but from the press members themselves. Associated Press reporter and president of the White House Correspondents’ Association Zeke Miller explicitly urged Biden to take questions from the press sooner rather than later. “Press conferences are critical to informing the American people and holding an administration accountable to the public,” he said. “As it has with prior presidents, the WHCA continues to call on President Biden to hold formal press conferences with regularity.”
On March 7, The Washington Post editorial board published an op-ed bluntly titled, “It’s past time for Biden to hold a news conference.” The board wrote, “He is the president, and Americans have every right to expect that he will regularly submit himself to substantial questioning.”
The AP notes that this appears to be part of a media strategy on behalf of the new administration, attempting to prevent a “historically gaffe-prone politician” from putting his foot in his mouth. During his first presidential campaign in 1988, Biden dropped out after just three months of campaigning after he was caught repeatedly plagiarizing British politician Neil Kinnock (via TIME). The New York Times also wrote that he was “living up to his gaffe-prone reputation” while running for vice president alongside Barack Obama in 2008.
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