Biden keeps a low profile in media interviews compared to his predecessors
President Joe Biden is setting records for his poor communication with the press, recording a fraction of the time with reporters that his recent predecessors have scored.
Reporters gave 18 media interviews with Biden earlier this month, a small part of 89 conducted by former President Donald Trump and 141 by former President Barack Obama during the same time in their presidency, according to data compiled by presidential historian Martha. Joynt Kumar.
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Former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton held more, with 44 and 53, respectively, while George HW Bush and Ronald Reagan held 46.
The Biden administration grapples with inflation, a new variant of the coronavirus, increasing crime and supply chain delays – all matters of significant public interest. Biden’s lean interview portfolio remains an area where the White House could quickly increase supply.
Still, the White House gave reporters few interviews with the president, telling reporters earlier this year that it was not a priority.
“I’m not sure if the format, whether it’s multiple shorter Q&A or a longer formal press conference, is high on the list of concerns of the American public,” the attache said. release Jen Psaki in September.
The sparse access shows a White House fears the president might stray from the agenda, presidential historian Craig Shirley told the Washington Examiner.
“How many ways do you spell ‘scared’? Said Shirley. âWhite House staff are as scared as a cat in a room full of rockers. I think they consider every journalist to be a terrorist carrying a nuclear device. Every journalist is a potential threat.
According to presidential historian and Rutgers University professor of history, journalism and media studies David Greenberg, the waning influence of legacy media, coupled with a wave of partisan media, could be blamed for the program. Biden’s reduced interviews.
âBiden’s relatively low number of interviews could be attributed to the polarized media environment,â Greenberg said. âAs the old ‘common carrier’ news organizations lose their influence and people rely on partisan media, internet sources, etc., the value of the independent interview may be less than it once was. . “
The minimalist strategy served Biden well during the election campaign last year.
As Trump’s team attacked the surroundings of the then candidate’s “basement bunker”, Biden kept the Democratic candidate on message and largely without skirmish. His advisers justified the effort by pointing to the spread of the coronavirus.
But nearly a year after coming to power, and with the party facing strong electoral headwinds, Biden has yet to lift the veil, leading Democrats to question whether the tactic still serves him.
His approval numbers are lower than those of Obama at the same time of his presidency, according to a RealClearPolitics poll average . In the midterm elections around this time, Democrats lost more than 60 seats in the House.
New York Representative Sean Patrick Maloney, House Speaker for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, criticized the White House for “not doing the courier job.”
Longtime Democratic strategist James Carville, Clinton’s senior campaign adviser, has suggested Biden should advocate his plan himself.
“What I believe in is sell, sell, sell,” Carville told the same publication last month. âWhat they lack is the meaning of the sale. Everyone wants to be an expert on politics, and no one wants to go door to door and sell pots and pans. “
Shirley, who criticizes Biden’s program, doubted that such an effort would support Biden’s, or Democrats’ numbers.
âLincoln said, ‘You can fool everyone once in a while and some people all the time, but you can’t fool everyone all the time. And that’s what they’re going to try to do, âhe said. “They fooled some people during the campaign, but it won’t last four years.”
Shirley added, âThe modern US Presidency demands that it interact with the national media. “
Biden has only had one interview with a prominent print publication, sitting down in May with The New York Times David Brooks. Only Clinton had fewer encounters with members of this cohort of 13 outlets, which includes Washington post, the Wall Street newspaper, Bloomberg, and Time. According to Kumar’s tally, Biden conducted two more print interviews with People review and Atlantic.
Trump, on the other hand, sat down 23 times with mainstream media during the same period in power, with seven of those interviews being reserved for The New York Times. While Obama did one less interview overall, he beat Trump by one New York Times interview, with the outlet talking to him eight times.
Biden only did one interview with local media, but Psaki told reporters last week that there was an effort underway to score more.
“I would love to see that happen,” she said when asked for additional dates. Trump, at that time, had 11, Obama 17, and Clinton 35. “We’re still competing on time – I” I’ll be honest. His schedule has been quite busy, but he would like to do it. We are working to get it on the calendar. “
Greenberg said the number could be slim due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has limited Biden’s contact with reporters. As the James Brady briefing room returned to full capacity this summer, the White House continues to cite the virus to defend the limited access it offers White House reporters to Biden’s official remarks.
Biden’s interview tally shows a clear preference for television, with Norah O’Donnell of CBS, Illa Calderon of Univision, Don Lemon of CNN, Craig Melvin of NBC News, Lawrence O’Donnell of MSNBC and Sage Steele of ESPN all toasting the President. ABC’s George Stephanopoulos interviewed him twice, as did CNN’s Anderson Cooper.
Greenberg suggested that Biden’s scarcity strategy might be a measure to add weight to his words.
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âIt also seems possible that Biden has realized he’s more effective if he ration his words,â Greenberg said. “He’s so naturally talkative that it would be easy for him to belittle the value of presidential rhetoric by going out there and talking too much.”
He added: “So he can deliberately hold back his fire in order to be more effective when giving interviews.”