- Biden has not held a single real press conference since taking office. Barack Obama held a press conference twenty days into office, and Donald Trump held one on his twenty-seventh day as President.
- Some people, including a growing number of journalists, are starting to voice their concerns.
- Thankfully, White House press secretary Jen Psaki is holding press conferences nearly every week, so it’s not that there’s a complete absence of presidential communication.
Why has President Joe Biden been so silent? In stark contrast to former President Trump, who rarely held his tongue in any capacity on just about any subject, President Joe Biden has been relatively silent in terms of personal communication with the press and public.
While there’s no shortage of officially released statements from the White House Briefing Room about the POTUS’ policies and plans, the President himself is approaching eight weeks in office without holding a traditional press conference.
Some people, including many within the journalistic community, are starting to wonder what’s going on.
Is this normal?
Taking a look at recent history only adds to the concern. For example, consider Biden’s two predecessors. Barack Obama held a press conference twenty days into office, and Donald Trump held one on his twenty-seventh day as President.
Of course, those administrations also utilized standard press releases and official written statements from the White House, but they regularly engaged in face-to-face unscripted communication. America has become accustomed to this type of interaction with the country’s highest office as a standard practice.
Former President Donald Trump’s frequent use of Twitter was compared by many to FDR’s radio fireside chats from days gone by. In the past four decades, no president has waited this long to hold a formal question and answer session with media representatives. In a day when mass communication is easier and more accessible than ever before, the lack of communication in the form of a standard press briefing seems anything but normal.
In fact, to some, it’s alarming.
Look who’s talking.
Some people, including a growing number of journalists, are starting to voice their concerns. They’re wondering why there hasn’t been a standard press conference. Our nation is halfway through the President’s first hundred days in office, and he’s yet to hold a solo in-person meeting with members of the press in which he interacts with reporters fielding questions and answers off-script.
Members of the Associated Press and others from The Washington Post, CNN, and Fox News have all voiced their concerns. Erik Wemple, Washington Post media critic, wrote,
“The people who elected him might also appreciate seeing him defend his policies in the crucible of a formal press event. These are generally revealing affairs, big moments for which journalists hone their inquiries and their follow-ups.”
Oliver Darcy from CNN said, “Reporters do have the responsibility to pressure this administration to be transparent.”
The White House has people for that.
Thankfully, White House press secretary Jen Psaki is holding press conferences nearly every week, so it’s not that there’s a complete absence of presidential communication. The problem seems to be that it’s not the personal communication that we’ve come to appreciate and expect from the leader of the free world.
This is especially true in times like the present when our country is so divided over a plethora of fundamental issues. The American people don’t want to hear from a press secretary. They want to hear from their President!
Personal presidential communication with the public has become a symbol of genuine concern as well as a token of transparency for this administration. The White House might be wise to recognize this and make it a priority moving forward.
Is the POTUS competent?
Some voices on the right have seized upon this subject as an opportunity for questioning the President’s competency. It’s no secret that Biden has attracted criticism from all across the political spectrum for being prone to gaffes in his public speaking. He’s even admitted as much but quickly dismissed the issue by trying to make comparisons to former president Trump.
Addressing several examples of poorly phrased and outright inaccurate statements he made along the campaign trail, Biden told the Des Moines Register, “As long as they compare me to Donald Trump, it’s a good thing,” Biden said. “I tell the truth. It’s a big difference.”
Unfortunately, highlighting the shortcomings of a predecessor does nothing to establish any substance of your own. Regularly scheduled press conferences are about more than conveying information. They serve as occasions for the President to demonstrate his competency and personally define and defend his policies.
The time is now.
There’s no shortage of volatile political fodder in the news these days, so it seems like a prime time for Joe Biden to break his press conference silence and break it fast. The country needs a strong central voice of unity and progress.
Jen Psaki said last Friday that the President has been busy dealing with significant problems like the COVID-19 vaccination and stimulus package, and he will be holding a regular presser with reporters by the end of March.
With the level of angst over the matter rising by the day, we can only hope that’s true. President Joe Biden needs to break his silence and hold press conferences defending his policies in front of the press.
Josh is a faith and culture writer with ThinkCivics. He attended seminary through Rock of Ages Baptist Bible Institute out of Cleveland, TN. He has held about every position one could hold in a local church: Sunday school teacher, Children’s Church Preacher, Bus Ministry Director/Worker, Missions Director, Choir Director, Song Leader, Janitor, etc. In October of 2005, he was ordained as an Assistant Pastor at Rest Haven Baptist Church, and that’s where he served until God called him into the Pastorate at Enon Baptist Church in Alto, GA at the age of 32. He stepped out by faith in obedience to God’s instructions and quickly received a call from Blessed Hope Baptist Church in Free Home, GA where he now serves as Pastor. In his free time, Josh enjoys spending quality time with his wife (who is his high school sweetheart) and three children: Zoey, Ava, and Jack, as well as reading, writing, hunting, cooking, weight lifting, and martial arts.