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White House press secretary Jen Psaki got snippy with a reporter when he pressed her on Thursday about President Joe Biden skipping yet another press conference.
Earlier that morning, the president again violated formalities by skipping the traditional press conference that occurs after the North American Leaders’ Summit, known more commonly by the media as the Three Amigos Summit.
He did so despite vowing to reporters that he would eventually take questions, meaning, or so they’d thought, that he’d be holding a formal press conference.
“The president seemed to say this morning — I think I’ve heard him say — that he would take questions after he meets with the leaders today. Do you know more of what we can expect in that regard?” CBS News Radio correspondent Steven Portnoy asked Psaki during Thursday’s briefing.
“Well, he just took questions a little bit ago, so we’ll see what the end of today looks like. And if the president wants to take questions, that’s certainly his right to take questions,” Psaki replied, purposefully conflating the president casually speaking with reporters with him holding an official press conference.
She has a habit of making this false equivalence:
I’m impressed that @PressSec has tracked how many times @POTUS has taken questions through September, but that’s not the same as a formal press conference.@presidency_proj data shows @JoeBiden has held the fewest formal press conferences since Reagan.
He can & should do more. https://t.co/aK3UE1h9LX
— Alex Howard (@digiphile) September 23, 2021
Note that the president didn’t even answer any of the questions that were yelled at him following Thursday’s summit.
“Biden ultimately answered zero questions that were shouted at him after the three-way meeting, according to a pool report. Reporters asked questions about Title 42 and the ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy,” Politico reported.
He did answer two questions earlier “as pool reporters were brought into the Oval Office during Biden’s meeting with Trudeau.”
“Should we expect a press conference tonight or tomorrow?” Portnoy pressed again during Thursday’s briefing in a final attempt at getting some real answers.
The White House press secretary responded by essentially defending her prior assertion.
“I would not expect, no, but you can ask questions in any format, right? I don’t think you need a formal embroidered chair for it, I don’t think,” she snidely said.
“We would like a press conference,” the reporter promptly responded.
“Okay,” Psaki then said with total indifference before moving on to another question.
Earlier in the press briefing, she claimed that the president violating an established tradition isn’t “as scandalous” as some are making it out to be.
She also tried redirecting attention to former President Donald Trump.
“I don’t think it’s as scandalous as that in terms of the backstory. Just to preface, there hasn’t been a North American Leaders’ Summit since 2016. So, when we’re talking about precedent, just to be clear, we’re talking about prior to that,” she said.
While it’s true former President Donald Trump skipped the summit during his presidency, this can’t be used as an excuse because Biden had “pitched himself as the return of normalcy and tradition,” according to CBS News.
“In all eight summits held since their inception in 2005, there has been a trilateral press conference. Former President Obama hosted press conferences with his Canadian and Mexican counterparts in 2012, as did former President Bush in 2008 and 2005. At that last 2016 news conference, reporters were able to ask tough, even uncomfortable questions of Mr. Obama,” the mainstream outlet notes.
There have been eight previous North American Leaders’ Summits. Each one has featured a press conference — ranging in length from 45 minutes to nearly an hour-and-a-half.
But none is scheduled today, as the president meets with his Canadian & Mexican counterparts.
— Steven Portnoy (@stevenportnoy) November 18, 2021
Since Biden skipped out on the customary press conference, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador “both scheduled their own individual press conferences at their respective embassies Thursday night,” according to Politico.
Unlike their U.S. counterpart, both “were eager enough to speak to journalists,” though they’d have preferred taking questions alongside Biden.
“For other country’s leaders, one of the perks of coming to the White House is the benefits that the setting can provide back home: standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the most powerful man in the world, parrying questions from both press corps about their nations’ relationship, with the famous building as the backdrop,” Politico reported.
The president’s behavior Thursday fits in with a larger pattern of him avoiding answering questions, particularly difficult ones.
Biden has had the fewest press conferences of any US president in modern history
Biden constantly walks away from the podium w/out taking questions
Biden uses lists of preapproved journalists to call on
The American people expect their president to tell them what is going on
— Commies, FBI & CIA are not your friends (@minutes_videos) November 18, 2021
As it stands, his refusal to speak doesn’t appear to be serving him well. A recent ABC News/Washington Post poll found that a 63 majority of U.S. voters believe he’s done either “not much” or “nothing” as president.
Some might argue that this perception can arise when a man hides out so much that the rest of the world comes to believe he’s always napping …
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