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President Joe Biden is reportedly the first president in at least 100 years to not hold a solo press conference within 45 days and counting of stepping into office, and for some inexplicable reason, White House press secretary Jen Psaki is unable to explain why.
Questioned about this discrepancy during a back-and-forth exchange at a White House briefing Friday, Psaki had no real answers — just excuses.
The exchange began with Reuters White House correspondent Alex Alper contrasting Biden’s press conference record with that of his predecessors.
“So we’re 45 days into the Biden presidency and he has yet to hold a presser. At this point in past presidencies, every president from Reagan had addressed reporters, some of them multiple times. So why the delay and when can we expect the president to hold a press conference?” she asked Psaki.
Indeed, analysis from CNN (of all places) shows that the president’s 15 most recent predecessors “all held a formal solo press conference within 33 days of taking office,” as reported by CNN’s Jake Tapper in a tweet posted earlier this week:
.@Kevinliptakcnn notes that an analysis of the past 100 years shows President Biden’s 15 most recent predecessors all held a formal solo press conference within 33 days of taking office. Biden has not and it’s day 42.
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) March 3, 2021
The White House says Biden will hold a full press conference before the end of the month — here are dates of his predecessors’ first press conferences, per @Presidency_Proj pic.twitter.com/R7JnpuOQhT
— Kevin Liptak (@Kevinliptakcnn) March 5, 2021
Psaki replied by trying to make a false equivalence between Biden randomly answering a few questions from the press (when he’s allowed) and holding a full-fledged presser.
“Well first, as all you know, the president takes questions several times a week. He took questions actually twice yesterday, which is an opportunity for the people covering the White House to ask them about whatever news is happening on any given day,” she said.
“We look forward to holding a full press conference in the coming weeks before the end of the month. And we’re working on setting a final date for that. And as soon as we do, we will let you all know, but this president came in during a historic crisis, two historic crises, a pandemic like the country had not seen in decades and decades and an economic downturn that left 10 million people out of work,” she continued.
Notice her use of Trumpian rhetoric.
“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 to vaccinate all Americans, which we will do by the end of May, and then pushing for a rescue plan that will provide direct checks to almost 160 million Americans,” Psaki continued.
“That’s where his time, energy, his focus has been. But in the meantime, he takes questions multiple times a week and looks forward to continuing to do that. And as soon as we have a press conference, we’ll let you know.”
Watch the full back-and-forth exchange below:
Alper responded by pointing out that Psaki was trying to compare apples to oranges.
“Those [examples of random question-answering] though are not an ideal forum for us to be asking you questions. He can’t hear us half the time. We get maybe two questions and then we’re shuffled out. So why hasn’t he answered questions from the press at this point? Is it just that he’s too busy?” she asked.
The White House press secretary responded by disputing the premise that Biden hasn’t answered questions.
“I think he’s answered questions, I believe the count is almost 40 times. And I would say that his focus again is on getting recovery and relief to the American people and he looks forward to continuing to engage with all of you and to other members of the media who aren’t here today. And we’ll look forward to letting you know, as soon as that press conference is set,” she said.
Speaking of letting the public know, the American people would also like to know when Biden intends to deliver his State of the Union speech.
What happened to Joe Biden’s State of the Union address?
Why hasn’t Pelosi issued an invite.
What are the Democrats so afraid of.
— Kambree (@KamVTV) February 26, 2021
Almost 43 days in office and Joe Biden has not done one press conference and no mention of the State of the Union address.
What are they hiding. What are they so afraid of.
— Kambree (@KamVTV) March 3, 2021
Trump did an address to Congress Feb 28, 2017.
Remember the pressure? Pelosi did not want to deliver the invite. But since media is comparing Biden to Trump so will I.
Past presidents have not delivered an official SOTU during the year in which they were inaugurated.
— Kambree (@KamVTV) March 4, 2021
Former Breitbart chief and Trump administration official Steve Bannon speculated earlier this week that Biden’s been avoiding a SOTU speech because he can’t handle it physically.
“Joe Biden hasn’t given a State of the Union because Joe Biden can’t stand up there and give a State of the Union. That’s what it’s all about. Also he won’t draw an audience but he can’t stand up there and do it,” he said.
To be clear, there’s no evidence to substantiate this theory, save of course for Biden’s notoriously “sleepy” ways.
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