At this time in office, both former Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump had held solo press conferences, reporters conveyed to White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Monday, hoping — but failing — to get a date when President Joe Biden would offer the same access.
Psaki assured journalists that Biden will hold a solo press conference with them at some point, but gave no indication when that would be — aside from ruling out this week as a possibility.
“By this time in their presidencies, both President Donald Trump and President Obama had held solo press conferences. Are there plans for President Biden to hold a solo press conference any time soon?” asked CNN reporter Kaitlan Collins.
“He will hold a solo press conference,” Psaki responded. “But I don’t have a date for you at this point in time.”
“This week?” Collins pressed.
Psaki answered, “Not this week, no.”
The press seemed unsatisfied, as another reporter asked if Biden was going to pick which reporters he would answer questions from at his potential future solo presser.
“Will he get to pick the inquisitors himself?” the reporter asked Psaki.
“Well, typically, any president has a list of people that they’re gonna call upon,” she responded. “But usually it’s a large number of people who are in the press room. And we certainly hope we’ll be able to do that in a Covid-safe way.”
Biden was notably hit with backlash from conservative media during his 2020 presidential run for his lack of engagement with the press.
“The former vice president spent much of 2020 hidden in the basement of his home away from the questions of the national press corps,” a Washington Examiner piece complained of “Hidin’ Biden” in August 2020.
Trump, during his tenure, did not shy away from hitting back at the media. The adversarial relationship was often comically translated by the media as routine “chilling attacks” on free speech.
Trump, however, routinely made himself accessible to journalists. In fact, an opinion piece for The Washington Post, appropriately titled, “President Trump is extremely accessible,” highlighted Trump’s accessibility to the press.
“According to Martha Joynt Kumar, director of the White House Transition Project and emeritus professor at Towson University, Trump has racked up 338 ‘short question-and-answer’ sessions over his time in office, which hits the two-year mark on Jan. 20.,” the Post piece said, which was published in January 2019. “Compare that to 75 for President Barack Obama over his full first two years in office, and 243 for President George W. Bush. ‘I think that it’s always good to have the opportunity to ask questions of the president,’ says Olivier Knox, president of the White House Correspondents’ Association. ‘It doesn’t replace the usefulness of a regular or daily briefing, which can serve to clear out what I call the underbrush of news’ — such as scheduling and logistical stuff.”
Notably, the legacy media coverage of Trump heavily skewed almost entirely negative.
.@PressSec is asked if President Biden will at some point be giving a solo press conference:
"He will hold a solo press conference… Not this week" pic.twitter.com/8pXqX5785E
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) February 22, 2021