A frequent refrain online is that Biden’s presidential portrait will be one of the many scenes of him walking away from reporters during a press conference, ushered off stage by some aide before he can say anything that makes his creeping senility too obvious or paints his disaster of an administration in too bad a light.
While it’s true that Brandon does that, as the Q+A portion of almost any press conference of his will attest (once the teleprompter is gone he tends to make a break for it), what the refrain hides is the fact that Biden has done so few press conferences.
Data on that comes from UC Santa Barbara’s “The American Presidency Project,” which examined Brandon’s press conferences through November 2021, along with the news/press conferences conducted by every president since Calvin Coolidge.
What it found is that President Brandon has held nine press conferences so far, only six of which he did solo. Averaged out, that means Brandon has done about 0.82 per month through Nov. 20, 2021.
That’s a shockingly low number of first year press conferences, lower than all but two of his post-1922 election predecessors, Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, though it should be noted that Reagan spent a large portion of time in his first recovering from John Hinckley Jr.’s assassination attempt.
Additionally, Gerald Ford did fewer press conferences in his first year, though it only began after Nixon resigned and he thus had less time to give conferences.
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However, that’s just formal press conferences. Has Biden made up the difference with informal interviews? No, no he has not. As the AP reports:
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.
[…]Biden has done just 22 media interviews, fewer than any of his six most recent White House predecessors at the same point in their presidencies.
As a comparison, despite having to recover from a gunshot wound, Ronald Reagan did 59 such interviews in his first year.
However, Brandon has slightly made up the difference by doing very informal Q+A sessions, often while he walks to Marine One, as Just the News reports:
The 46th president has had more informal Q & A sessions than four of his five immediate predecessors. Biden is known for pausing to shout brief answers to reporters’ questions as he boards the Marine One helicopter. He can, however, ignore reporters’ questions in this type of situation.
“Fleeting exchanges are insufficient to building the historical record of the president’s views on a broad array of public concerns,” CBS News reporter Steven Portnoy, current president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, told The Associated Press. “We have had scant opportunities in this first year to learn the president’s views on a broad range of public concerns.”
Still, though he’s done quite a few of those, their short nature and his ability to just walk away make them far less useful than traditional pressers, as Portnoy hints at. So, what’s Brandon hoping he can hide- his senility or his disaster of an administration? I think it’s both.