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White House press secretary Jen Psaki did another impression of Baghdad Bob on Thursday, insisting that President Joe Biden has answered 1000 questions over the past year “just to be generous.” It’s almost as if Psaki is confident that the fact-checkers have granted her carte blanche to say what she pleases.
Keep in mind that it’s been well over two months since Biden held his last press conference and even his media allies have taken note of his limited availability to the media.
“As Biden wraps up his first year in the White House, he has held fewer news conferences than any of his five immediate predecessors at the same point in their presidencies, and has participated in fewer media interviews than any of his recent predecessors,” the Associated Press reported this week.
Psaki was asked Thursday about a report from the media watchdog Committee to Protect Journalists expressing concerns about access to the president for reporters, as well as timely responses from the White House press office to various queries on various topics.
Saying she was unfamiliar with the report, Psaki said of Biden, “One of the things he conveyed to me very clearly was resetting the tone with the media was a big priority for him, and ensuring that there was a respect even when there’s a point of contention or a difficult conversation, or a back-and-forth — that that is part of democracy.”
— Tommy moderna-vaX-Topher (@tommyxtopher) January 14, 2022
Turning to the issue of access, she then dropped this doozy: “The other thing I would say is that, you know, the President has taken questions at about two hundred — on about 250 occasions over the past year. If you average about three questions per time, that’s about 750 questions he’s taken. That does not include the formal press conference he did in March, other press conferences he’s done. That’s about three. So let’s say 1,000, just to be generous there. That’s about three questions a day.”
“I think the American people have seen him out there answering questions. He will continue to be. That’s an important part of his engagement with the press and the public, and that will be a part of how we continue to conduct ourselves,” she added.
Back in November, while speaking of informal Q&A sessions, Psaki claimed Biden answered twice the number of questions as Trump did.
“A lot of people think of President former President Trump as quite accessible. President Biden has answered questions twice as many times at these events than President Trump did at this point in time,” she said.
The AP rolled out Martha Joynt Kumar, a professor emerita in political science at Towson University and director of the White House Transition Project, to claim Biden has take more questions than his predecessors at his events but is so darned efficient that it takes up less time.
“While President Biden has taken questions more often at his events than his predecessors, he spends less time doing so,” Kumar told the news agency. “He provides short answers with few follow-ups when he takes questions at the end of a previously scheduled speech.”
The great irony here is that Biden refused to answer questions shouted to him by reporters Thursday after announcing his plan to distribute free high-quality masks to the American people in an attempt to show some action in the face of a dramatic surge on the number of COVID-19 cases brought on by the omicron variant:
Biden gets annoyed at reporters asking him questions about his handling of Covid: “We’ll talk about that later, c’mon” pic.twitter.com/wn6Tslt3ij
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) January 13, 2022
The online response to the whole sordid affair can be summed up with one tweet:
Biden answered more than 1000 questions last year. That would have been considered a slow week for his predecessor.
— Michael Eckley (@Eckley_Michael) January 14, 2022
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