Despite a pledge to "bring transparency and truth back to the government," President Joe Biden has held the fewest press conferences since Ronald Reagan.
It's so bad that last Thursday he bailed on a decades-old tradition of holding a press conference with Colombian President Gustavo Petro following a White House meeting. Instead, Petro held a news conference all by himself in front of the West Wing, the NY Times (!) reports.
In more than two years as president, Biden has held just 54 interviews. For comparison, Trump held 202 during the first two years of his presidency, while Obama gave 275.
More than any president in recent memory, Mr. Biden, 80, has taken steps to reduce opportunities for journalists to question him in forums where he can offer unscripted answers and they can follow up. The result, critics say, is a president who has fewer moments of public accountability for his comments, decisions and actions.
Mr. Biden has not accused the news media of being “the enemy of the people,” as his predecessor did during four years in which news organizations documented thousands of lies by Mr. Trump. -NY Times
Meanwhile, with Biden's 2024 reelection announcement waiting in the wings, "he is accelerating the demise of traditions that have underpinned the relationship with the news media for decades," by keeping the press at arm's length in an attempt to sidestep those traditions.
According to the White House, the lack of transparency is a deliberate attempt to connect with audiences without the traditional news media (what?) that can cast a filter on his words (i.e. accurately report that he's a highly-medicated vegetable).
"Our ultimate goal is to reach the American people wherever and however they consume media, and that’s not just through the briefing room or Washington-based news outlets," said White House comms director, Ben LaBolt. "The fracturing of the media and the changing nature of information consumption requires a communications strategy that adapts to reach Americans where they get the news."
Instead, the new strategy "often means low-risk conversations with celebrities or supportive internet influencers as a regular means of generating publicity," according to the report.
Instead of facing tough questions from actual journalists, Biden has sat for interviews with actors Jason Bateman and Drew Barrymore, as well as weatherman Al Roker and YouTube beauty blogger Manny MUA (who?).
Biden last week: "There are more important things than going to the border"— Daily Wire (@realDailyWire) December 19, 2022
Biden this week: *interviews with Drew Barrymore*pic.twitter.com/1vmktN9gMF
"All presidents chafe at people questioning what they think is the great policies that we’re enacting and the good things that we’re doing," said former Bill Clinton press secretary, Mike McCurry. "But at some level, you’ve got to have a process in the White House that respects that."
According to McCurry, presidents feel less pressure to engage journalists in today's news environment because 'traditional news organizations have lost the influence they used to have...'
"That’s a real issue too, because we can sort of say, ‘Well, we don’t have to be as responsive to this group of journalists who are yapping at our knees every day,’" said McCurry. "And that’s too bad. Preparing for and giving press conferences forces the White House and other agencies to come up with better answers and sometimes better policies."