Gaffe-Prone Joe Biden Has Done A Stunningly Low Amount of Interviews During His Time in Office

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Posted: Oct 17, 2021 4:30 PM
Gaffe-Prone Joe Biden Has Done A Stunningly Low Amount of Interviews During His Time in Office

Source: AP Photo/Evan Vucci

That it took President Joe Biden being in office for 64 days before giving his first press briefing on March 25 turned out to be a sign of things to come for his administration, according to Amie Parnes' article for The Hill, "Biden giving stiff-arm to press interviews."

As Parnes wrote, "President Biden has only given 10 one-on-one press interviews since taking office in January, a low number that is drawing more attention toward the White House’s efforts to control and manage the way Biden interacts with reporters.

How bad is 10? It's pretty bad, especially in comparison. His predecessor, Donald Trump, did more than 50 interviews through the summer of their first year in office, while Barack Obama, whom Biden was the vice president for, did more than 113 interviews. Parnes cites tracking from Mark Knoller, a former White House correspondent for CBS News. Knoller started covering presidents during Gerald Ford's administration. 

That Biden doesn't do enough interviews is getting noticed, too, including from other Democrats:

When presidents do not do interviews, it raises questions about whether they are worried about handling the questions they might get, and whether they see little opportunity to gain from the one-on-ones. 

...

But [Biden's] lack of long-range, in-depth interviews has garnered attention from even Democrats.  

“The problem here is that interviews are a way of getting their message across and not doing interviews means they're not using all the communications tools they have in their arsenal,” said one top Democratic strategist. “And we all know why they're doing it. They want to keep him carefully scripted. But carefully scripted isn't always the best thing.”

Democratic strategist Jamal Simmons put it this way: “Joe Biden can sometimes get off message so putting him in unscripted environments might not be the best way of Joe Biden communicating. 

“If you're an administration trying to communicate a very clear message, using a president in scripted moments may be the best way to amplify those moments," he added.

The president likes talking to reporters but is famously gaffe-prone. When the coronavirus pandemic limited his schedule, some ended up seeing it as a boon for his presidential prospects.

Democrats aren't even ashamed of the lack of transparency in this administration anymore, it seems if they ever were to begin with:

Democrats close to the White House acknowledge that aides and advisers have purposely kept Biden more scripted. “The best way to eliminate the gaffes is to manage the message,” another Democratic strategist said. “They understand the strengths and weaknesses of the president.” 

The strategist also argued the strategy is largely effective and questioned whether the general public cares that Biden isn’t taking more questions.

Tellingly, the White House did not respond for comment on the story. "The White House has written off the criticism, choosing not to weigh in on the matter, seeking to get above the fray. White House officials did not respond to a request for this story," Parnes wrote.

There are countless examples of bizarre moments Joe Biden has had with the press. There was that whispering he did. As he spoke to the press when Afghanistan fell, he hardly ever took questions from the press; that image with his back turned has become quite iconic. When a reporter approached Biden in July about defunding the police, the president responded by asking "are there people in the Republican Party who think we’re sucking the blood out of kids."

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The White House also interferes with foreign leaders interacting with the press. When the Indian prime minister sat down with the president last month, Biden pointed out that "the Indian press is much better behaved than the American press…I think, with your permission, you could not answer questions because they won’t ask any questions on point."

Just a few days before that, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was cut off when he was answering questions from the press while visiting the president.

Parnes noted how it's Republicans who have concerns with and have used Biden's age against him. But polls show Americans overall aren't that confident with him. 

A Pew Research poll from last month surveyed 10,371 adults between September 13-19 and found that 56 percent see him as not "mentally sharp," including the 35 percent who say "not at all," while 43 percent do see him as being sharp.

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