The White House press pool has grown increasingly weary with their lack of access to President Joe Biden and on Monday, they let White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre hear it.
“Is the administration trying to protect the president from our questions?”
At least three members of the press voiced their concerns after learning the president’s trip to Ireland marking the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement would not include a formal press conference.
Among them was Jon Decker from Gray Television who followed up a query on abortion by stating, “And then the second question has to do with the lack of a press conference during the president’s upcoming trip and the lack of press conference that we see in general from this White House.”
“I represent a news organization that owns 113 television stations. And a question that I’m often asked — and I don’t know the answer to, so I’ll ask you that question: Is the administration trying to protect the president from our questions? Please answer that question if you could,” he said.
“Absolutely not. Absolutely not,” Jean-Pierre insisted.
“Then why the lack of any interaction in a formal setting to have a press conference?” Decker followed up, earning a defense from the press secretary, “I mean, the president takes shouted questions.”
“I understand. I have dealt with this question about three times already,” Jean-Pierre continued as she struggled to placate the reporters. “I understand it is — it is — it is the job of you all to ask this question to me. Totally get that. And that’s not a problem at all.”
“But certainly, the president many times has — has stan- — has stood in front of all of you, has taken questions on his own, because he wanted to see what was on — on your minds, he wanted to see what the questions you all were going to ask him, and he wanted to answer them directly,” she insisted. “That has happened multiple times — many times during this administration. And that will certainly continue to be. When it comes to a formal press conference, I don’t have anything to share with you at this time.”
Decker continued, unrelenting, and added, “Just to button it up. You recognize that as it relates to prior administrations, the president’s predecessor, President Obama, President George W. Bush — I’ve been here long enough to have covered President Bill Clinton — this is not the norm. The norm is we do get an opportunity, ask the questions to the president about domestic and foreign policy issues in a formal setting at some point, and you choose that point. But we haven’t had that opportunity in quite some time.”
He even pointed out how in 2020, former President Donald Trump “took questions practically every day.”
In reply, Jean-Pierre again attempted to counter with the number of shouted questions Biden fields during informal situations and that she would “certainly get the date and share that.”
No matter what contrived metric the White House would present to bolster the president’s reputation on this front, according to The American Presidency Project run by the University of California Santa Barbara, Trump had held 88 press conferences during his administration, Obama 163 over his two terms and Biden was running behind by half at only 21 during his tenure.
Of course, neither of them had to contend with inviting the potential of answering questions about an ongoing investigation into their son’s allegedly criminal overseas business deals on the same trip that they had invited that controversial son along.
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