White House press secretary Jen Psaki has gone round and round with reporters in the White House press corps for several weeks now on the issue of when Joe Biden will be holding his first formal press conference.
Before we get into her comments from earlier today, let’s flashback to what she said on Friday on the question because it’s relevant. Instead of being non-committal, she was a little more detailed in letting reporters know that Biden would be doing his first formal presser “before the end of the month,” though she did not give a specific date.
Psaki then attempted to debunk the insinuation that Biden was avoiding reporters by droning on and on about how Biden had supposedly taken questions from reporters at least 40 times but was also very busy taking care of The People’s Business, yada yada. But the AP reporter who questioned her continued to press the matter, pointing out that catching the POTUS on the fly for a question as he was walking out of a room was not the same thing as a formal Q&A.
It’s at that point Psaki basically told the reporters assembled in the room that they should be fine with the scraps Biden throws at them on occasion because he had more important matters to focus on at this point in time or something.
During today’s press briefing, another reporter first confirmed with Psaki that Biden would indeed be holding a press conference before the end of the month. While Psaki confirmed he would be, she again brought up the talking point about how Biden has supposedly done “about 40 Q&As since he took office”, and her tone suggested she was incredulous that the media were still pressing the administration for access to him.
But when the reporter asked “what does it mean going forward? Will we see more of President Biden -?”, Psaki interjected with a question of her own. “You mean more than 40 Q&As in the last month?” Psaki said to the reporter.
After Psaki had finished interrupting her, the reporter continued on with her question. “… where he will be [subjected] to more extensive questions, follow-ups, the kind of things that we’re doing today? Will we see him regularly?”
It was then Psaki appeared exasperated and snapped, stating that “I – I don’t know if you’ll see him more than 40 times a month but I’m happy to ask him that question.”
As I said of her answer on Friday, this one was not only pathetic but disturbing and insulting.
As this administration likes to frequently remind us, Joe Biden is the president of the United States. He came in promising to restore “trust and respect” between the White House and the press, and as happened under the Obama-Biden administration, Biden vowed to have the most transparent administration in history.
Yet as of this point, some 50 or so days into his administration, he’s done neither. Sorry, Ms. Psaki, but being able to yell out a quick question to Biden as he walks away from the podium and exits the room (and as the press are being herded away like cattle) is not what I would call a “Q&A.” It’s just not. It doesn’t sound like the press is buying that line of argument, either.
Her answer, along with Biden’s incoherent explanation on the COVID relief bill this past weekend, suggests things are indeed not well at the White House with the president.
Psaki can keep playing these word games all she wants to, but the more she does, the more speculation will ramp up over just what’s going on and as to why Biden has not yet subjected himself to his first formal press briefing nearly two months into his presidency.
If what happened over the weekend and in recent weeks with him is any indication, the American people are right to be concerned and are owed an answer from this White House beyond Psaki’s snide “I’ll check and let you know” responses.