Biden holds far fewer press conferences than his predecessors
President Biden held fewer press conferences in his first year in office than his recent predecessors, according to data compiled by the U.S. Presidency Project at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Why is this important: Solo press conferences present an opportunity — and a risk — for presidents to defend their actions, fend off reporters, and speak directly to the American people. The one Biden holds at 4 p.m. Wednesday will only be the 10th of his presidency.
- The White House has been hesitant to use them, preferring more controlled interactions or appearances by surrogates such as its press secretary or cabinet secretaries.
- The postponement has indirectly upped the ante when the president steps into the solo spotlight.
- Biden’s last major press conference took place in early November, at the close of the global climate change summit in Scotland.
What they say : A White House official said the president would note the country’s progress in vaccinating all American volunteers and the growing economy amid record job creation.
- “The President knows there’s still work to do, so he’s also going to get to the level of the American people on the challenges we still face — especially when it comes to COVID-19 and rising prices. — and the steps it is taking to address them,” the official said.
By the numbers: Not all press conferences are the same.
Full-fledged press conferences feature the president alone at the microphone, answering questions – often for up to an hour – from reporters who cover him daily.
Joint press conferences, when the president appears side-by-side with a foreign leader, they usually only have a few questions from each country’s press.
- Biden has held six joint pressers and three solo, the data shows.
- President Trump recorded a joint presser in 2017 and 20 by himself.
- President Obama held seven joint pressers and 20 alone, including four during prime time.
Between the lines: Official UC Santa Barbara tallies do not capture all of the informal interactions between a president and reporters.
- Trump loved the “chopper talk,” chatting with reporters over the whine of Marine One, answering questions he wanted, driving his narrative and fueling the cable television frenzy.
- These commitments are not reflected in UCSB’s figures.
- But Martha Joynt Kumar, a professor emeritus at Towson University who closely monitors presidential activity, noted that Trump had 227 short question-and-answer sessions during his first 18 months in office.
Rollback: Obama used a solo press conference after the 2010 midterm election to attempt a reset – publicly eating the crow by calling the election “shellacking”.
- He also extended an olive branch to then-Speaker of the House John Boehner, saying he was ready to welcome him to the White House for a “Slurpee Summit.”