On Sunday, everyone’s favorite potato, CNN’s Brian Stelter, had an exchange with New York Times White House correspondent Katie Rogers during his ironically named show Reliable Sources. During the discussion, Stelter questioned her about when President Biden would hold a solo press conference:
Stelter: We see the president frequently holding events about COVID, holding events at vaccination sites, et cetera. We see him a lot. Are we getting any access for question and answers that the White House Press Corps want to see? It’s been more than a month now and there’s been no solo press conference from the new president.
Rogers: Right, and both of his most recent predecessors, Donald Trump and Barack Obama, had held a solo presser within the first month of the presidency. The White House press secretary has said that President Biden will hold a solo press conference, but not last week. They haven’t given a timeframe for when that will happen.
The president is somebody who has been kept on a pretty tightly constricted messaging streak lately. When he spoke yesterday it was about a minute long. The need to pass his $1.9 trillion COVID relief package in the Senate. They don’t have the sort of legislative margins to really let him hold a solo press conference at a time when they need to pass such a massive relief bill.
Last night, Fox News host Tucker Carlson commented on Biden’s lack of a solo presser and noted that even CNN was not happy about it. You may or may not know that Stelter stalks Carlson’s content like a jilted lover. Some have said if Tucker Carlson Tonight were a person, they would get a restraining order.
After watching Carlson’s show, Stelter ran to his computer to respond. He must have been excited since he posted his assessment at 11:31 the same night. He even contacted White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki to get a comment:
On Wednesday night I asked White House press secretary Jen Psaki if she had a response to the clamoring for a POTUS presser. Psaki answered: “We look forward to holding a full formal press conference, but in the meantime the President takes questions from the reporters covering the White House regularly, including this morning. And his focus day in and day out is on getting the pandemic under control and putting people back to work. That’s what people elected him to do.”
Stelter did say reporters should keep up the pressure for Biden to do a presser while inserting some “Orange Man Bad” to excuse why the president hasn’t. This may be the only time I have ever partially agreed with Stelter. There is a crisis on the border, tensions are rising in the Middle East, and Biden has signed innumerable executive orders, memorandums, and proclamations. Americans have questions.
The idea that there hasn’t been a press conference because of the relief bill is ridiculous. A capable president would use that forum as a bully pulpit to increase pressure on Congress to deliver as previous presidents have. Of course, Stelter didn’t point that out. Then he pounced on what he called Carlson’s “gross distortion”:
Here’s a classic example of how Fox’s Tucker Carlson takes something legit and turns it into B.S. commentary. Questions about when Biden will have a full-fledged press conference are legit — but on Wednesday night Carlson went way further and said Biden is “refusing to speak directly to the media.” Weird, since Fox’s White House reporter Peter Doocy has repeatedly interacted with Biden this winter. That’s not “silence.” Carlson then ridiculed Biden’s public speaking and said he didn’t want to see a presser after all: “It’s one thing to know your country is being led by a guy in cognitive decline, it’s another thing to see it, and we don’t want to see it.”
For clarification, Fox’s Peter Doocy generally shouts questions when Biden leaves the podium and gets sarcasm or a short answer. Carlson’s eight-minute monologue was primarily about teachers’ unions and how they use the concept of equity to maintain their power. Still, his full 20-second comment about Biden was not wrong:
42 days into the administration and still no solo press conference from Joe Biden. That is the longest stretch of silence from any president in at least a century. So, by refusing to speak directly to the media, Joe Biden is attacking our most cherished Democratic norms. Even CNN is complaining about it.
And we would echo those complaints if we really cared. Honestly, we’re just as happy that Joe Biden remains in seclusion. Imagine a full press conference from Joe Biden. An endless hour of blank spots, mumbling and his wife interjecting with the right answer. How depressing would that be? It’s one thing to know that your country is being led by a guy in cognitive decline. It’s another thing to have to see it. And we don’t want to see it.
Stelter is mad because Carlson is pointing out what everyone can see. All you have to do is search “Biden cognitive decline” in your browser. In June 2020, nearly 4 in 10 Americans held this view. Even Politico doesn’t deny it anymore. Recent short videos where he verbally fumbled in Texas and the abruptly cut conference video feed when Biden said he was supposed to take questions support Carlson.
Hilariously, it appears Stelter tried to fact-check Carlson’s claim and ended up having to confirm it. He noted that another reporter, Kevin Liptak, had done his homework and sent a note confirming that every other president in the last 100 years has held a press conference within 33 days. Here’s some news for Stelter: there will not be a press conference any time soon. Biden required days of press lids to modify his schedule to make it through the debates, where he never had to speak longer than three minutes. As the free world’s supposed leader, he can’t go into hiding for that long now.
WATCH Tucker Carlson’s entire monologue: