President Joe Biden will give a formal press conference next week, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Friday – as the president starts the year with low poll numbers and faces defeat of two key agenda items.
Wednesday will mark 78 days since his last formal press conference – a period that has seen Biden’s approval rating slide, amid the spread of the omicron variant, the failure to pass his Build Back Better plan, and his so far unsuccessful effort to move voting rights legislation.
As of Friday, Biden had gone 73 days without such an event.
Biden will face the press on Jan. 19, the anniversary of former President Donald Trump’s last full day in office.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, who has been fending off questions from reporters for weeks about when Biden would hold such an event, mentioned it at the top of her briefing Friday.
President Joe Biden is scheduled to hold a formal press conference Wednesday. He has taken questions at less formal events, as he did at the Capitol Thursday, often fielding one or two
‘Next Wednesday, the President will hold a formal press conference at 4pm in the afternoon. So we look forward to seeing you there and to the presidents who are speaking directly to the American people,’ she said.
Her delivery was casual, and a reporter in the room later asked when Biden would hold his next news conference without realizing Psaki had just broken the news.
Psaki has spent weeks insisting that Biden’s regular engagements with the press in other venues are a sufficient substitute.
Biden regularly fields questions after speeches or before boarding Marine One when leaving the White House.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki broke the news to reporters
Biden’s last formal press conference was in Glasgow, Scotland Nov. 2. Here he is seated onstage during an Action on Forests and Land Use event
In lieu of press conferences, Biden has taken questions in between events when the press are present. Sometimes Marine One’s engines are roaring in the background
President Joe Biden has given far fewer press conferences in his first year of presidency than his five predecessors
Following formal remarks Thursday, there was a long awkward silence as reporters shouted questions at the president, and he did not respond even as the cameras rolled, before an official White House feed was finally cut.
The move comes as Vice President Kamala Harris also appears to be retooling her media strategy. Harris, who like Biden has an under water approval rating, sat for a one-on-one interview with NBC a week after doing so with PBS. She also accompanied Biden to major speeches on voting rights and the anniversary of Jan. 6th.
The event comes at a critical time. Democrats were unable to move Biden’s signature $1.8 trillion Build Back Better plan before Christmas as planned. Two key holdouts, Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, came out against Biden’s push to change the filibuster to move voting rights.
The U.S. keeps hitting records for infections and hospitalizations amid the spread of the omicron variant. A plan to sent out home test kits has yet to get tests into the hands of Americans. And inflation is setting new records, even as job gains surpass expectations from a year ago and unemployment is at historic lows.
Joe Biden has conducted far fewer press conferences than five of his immediate predecessors in his first year in office and has given less interviews with the media than the six presidents who served before him.
In Year One, President Biden has only given nine formal press conferences – six solo and three jointly with visiting foreign leaders. He has also conducted 22 media interviews.
By comparison, at this point in their respective presidencies Donald Trump conducted 21 press conferences, Barack Obama was at 27, George W. Bush at 19, Bill Clinton at 38 and George H. W. Bush at 31.
Ronald Reagan only held six news conferences in 1981 because his schedule was scaled back early in his first term in 1981 after an assassination attempt.
Reagan did, however, engaged in 59 interviews in his first year as president.