News & Politics

What’s Biden Hidin’? Holds Fewer Press Conferences and Interviews Than the Last Five Presidents

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Old Joe Biden has been pretending to be president of the United States for almost a year now, and he has pretty much mastered, with some difficulty, walking up the steps of Air Force One. However, one aspect of his presidential act could still use some work: in his first year, he has held fewer press conferences and interviews than Trump, Obama, George W. Bush, Clinton, and George H.W. Bush. Biden’s handlers clearly don’t want him out there in front of the cameras talking, and it’s easy to see why.

Biden’s handlers have clearly taken Obama’s dictum seriously: “Don’t underestimate Joe’s ability to f*** things up.” They’re clearly determined to give him as few opportunities to do so as possible. Even at the press conferences he has held, Biden has on several occasions made it clear that the people who are really in charge were keeping him on a short leash. Last June at the G7 Summit, Biden said: “I’m sorry, I’m going to get in trouble with staff if I don’t do this the right way.” At a press conference in November, the obliging presidential puppet gave the impression that he was not supposed to take too many questions: “I can take…I’m going to get in real trouble…this is the last question I’m taking.”

Biden’s handlers have limited his press conference access severely. He has only given nine during his first year as president, and three of those were with foreign leaders who were visiting the United States. In contrast, Trump gave 22 press conferences his first year. Barack Obama gave 27. Clinton gave 38, and George H.W. Bush 31. George W. Bush was the least press-conference-accessible president besides Biden, with 19.

Old Joe is hardly more available for press interviews than he is for press conferences. He gave 22 during his first year in office; Trump gave 92, and Obama 156, according to an analysis by Martha Joynt Kumar of Town University, director of the White House Transition Project. Biden has taken questions at other events that are not press conferences or interviews, but this enables him to give brief and cursory answers: “While President Biden has taken questions more often at his events than his predecessors, he spends less time doing so. He provides short answers with few follow-ups when he takes questions at the end of a previously scheduled speech.”​

Steven Portnoy of CBS News Radio, president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, observed that “fleeting exchanges are insufficient to building the historical record of the president’s views on a broad array of public concerns. We have had scant opportunities in this first year to learn the president’s views on a broad range of public concerns. The more formal the exchange with the press, the more the public is apt to learn about what’s on the man’s mind.”

Of course. But what if there isn’t much of anything on the man’s mind, other than what’s for breakfast and when can I get a nap, and can’t you keep that pesky dog from biting everybody? Then you have to keep him under wraps as much as you can possibly get away with, and here we are.

Biden’s White House, however, insists that it is as open as the day is long. White House principal deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said: “I think that we have been very transparent. I don’t think you can just piecemeal and I think you have to look at it as a whole.”​

Related: Joe Biden Is Still Avoiding the Media

Very well. And looking at it as a whole, it’s clear that Joe Biden isn’t really running things and is just a frontman for the shadowy cabal that really is in charge. If Biden, a man whose dementia becomes more apparent by the day, really were running things, that would be even worse, and no one knows that as intimately as do his handlers. Missouri State University professor Brian Ott suggests that Biden’s approval ratings are so shockingly low because he hasn’t been out there making his case before the American people: “The presidency has always been a predominantly rhetorical enterprise,” according to Ott. “You can’t drive an agenda without vision casting and part of that has to go through the mainstream press.”

And if you’re not even the man with the vision but are just playing his role before the cameras, the situation is even worse.