Though 36 days after he was inaugurated, President Biden has yet to perform before journalists for a solo press conference.
The delay has annoyed members of the White House press corps, from CNN to Fox News, and surfaced questions about Biden’s campaign commitment to restore respect for the press after four years of Trump’s “fake news” offenses.
“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,” stated 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 continued.
Biden has answered occasional questions from journalists throughout his appearances in front of the cameras passing remarks on COVID-19 or the economy. He has answered to reporters on his way to board Marine One before departing from or returning to the White House.
Though he has yet to hold a solo press conference since taking office last month.
So while Obama delivered his first press conference on Feb. 9, 2009, and Trump issued in the East Room of the White House for 77 freewheeling minutes on Feb.16, 2017, the country has not yet seen Biden go head-to-head with a room full of reporters.
The outcome is conservative media scattering off their “hiding Joe” headlines from the campaign when Biden ran a low-key strategy that enabled Trump to hog coverage.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki was questioned when that might change throughout one of her usual briefings this week.
“He will hold a solo press conference, but I don't have a date for you at this point in time,” she stated.
Throughout the campaign, Biden pledged to "fix" the damage done by Trump’s frequent charges on journalists.
“As president, I will restore a relationship with the independent press that is grounded in mutual respect, even, and especially when, they critique policies or positions of my administration,” he announced.
His administration has restored the role of daily briefings. And last week, Biden fielded over an hour of questions throughout a CNN town hall.
Yet journalists explained that briefings by staff are not the same as the chance to examine the president directly.
“Because we learn more when we hear the president answer questions directly,” Kathryn Watson of CBS News wrote on Twitter. “The CNN town hall was helpful — Biden said more than his people usually say.