WaPo Editorial Board: Biden is overdue for first press conference
March 15, 2021
The Washington Post editorial board has grown weary of waiting for President Joe Biden to hold his first press conference and urged him to rectify this matter sooner rather than later.
A week ago White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that Biden would hold a news conference “before the end of the month.” The editorial board said that last month would have been better and this week would be better than next adding that avoiding news conferences “must not become a regular habit” for the president and that Americans have every right to expect that he will regularly submit himself to substantial questioning.
The board then compared Biden to his predecessors and found him lacking.
“But each of his 15 most recent predecessors, including Mr. Trump, held a full news conference within their first 33 days in office. Mr. Biden has been in office for 46 days. It was only after journalists’ complaints became increasingly loud — and following a wave of bad press — that Ms. Psaki announced Friday that the president would appear for an extended, unaccompanied question-and-answer session with reporters.”
While acknowledging that Biden has taken reporters questions at some events — he has also avoided questions on the border crisis — the editorial board pointed out that the Post’s Erik Wemple called it perfunctory and no substitute for formal, solo press conferences at which reporters can ask questions and receive answers that are more than a couple of words long.
That sentiment is echoed by former Clinton White House press secretary Mike McCurry, who told ABC News that “it’s not a substitute for the more normal press conference to just have the president take a few questions in passing.”
Vox defended Biden’s lack of a press conference, saying that “the urgent public health and economic crises he inherited, a pandemic that complicates logistics, and the legacy former President Donald Trump left him of presidential news conferences doubling as hate spectacles,” even though the White House has not said that these are factors.
The editorial board concluded by stating that “Mr. Biden should be eager to advertise his more thoughtful, reality-based approach. He should do so in front of reporters, for extended periods of time, and more often than his late start would suggest.”
But the reality of the situation lies more in the concern of Biden’s advisers and whether or not he can handle an extended Q-and-A with reporters and avoid getting boxed into a corner or making a gaffe, which he has famously done multiple times during his political career.