President Joe Biden will address the nation Thursday evening with a prime time speech, the first time since taking office seven weeks ago that the president will speak to the nation.
The presidential address coincides with the one year anniversary of the World Health Organization declaring COVID-19 a pandemic on March 11, 2020.
Biden said on Wednesday that, “I am going to announce the next phase of the COVID response and explain what we will do as a government and what we will ask of the American people.”
The last time President Biden spoke to the American people was Inauguration Day. Since that time, he has held no formal press conferences, and his first State of the Union address has not been scheduled.
His last three predecessors – George W Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump – were taking questions from the press roughly one month after taking office.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki has, up to this point, successfully kept the media at arm’s length.
Psaki said that part of the President’s “Build Back Better” agenda are “still being determined,” and that Biden would not deliver an address “until after that bill is signed (the COVID relief package), until after those checks are going out to Americans, until after that vaccine money is going out, and after that money is going out to schools.”
Psaki defended Biden’s lack of attention to the press on Monday saying, “The President takes questions several times a week. He took questions actually twice yesterday. We look forward to holding a full press conference. We’re working on setting a final date for that and as soon as we do we will let you all know.”
But what’s the hold up? Of the last three presidents, George W. Bush waited the longest to hold a press conference at 34 days. Barack Obama went in front of the press in just 21 days, and Donald Trump held a press conference 28 days into his presidency.
And why hasn’t a joint session of Congress been scheduled? Shouldn’t that be a time for a new president to not only talk about the state of the union, but also to lay out his vision and his agenda for the next four years? Particularly after a brutal election?
Americans are taking notice, as well.
Rasmussen reports that 52% of likely voters are “very concerned” that Biden has not yet held a press conference.
Former White House Press Secretary and now Fox News Analyst Kayleigh McEnany called the absence of media access to the president “extraordinary but predictable.”
She went on to say, “I remember I warned reporters, in a joking way, when it was clear Biden was the incoming president, they should get used to the feeling of not seeing a president regularly.”
McEnany also referred to Biden’s lack of campaigning during the election cycle.
This has also been the subject of a new book by Jonathan Allen of NBC News and Amie Parnes of The Hill that claims the Biden campaign used the coronavirus as an excuse to keep Joe Biden, who often makes verbal gaffes, from voters.
The book called it the strategy of “you put your dumb uncle in the basement.” The campaign claims that much of the reason for Biden’s lack of campaigning was due to COVID.
“If history was any indicator, the basement strategy would continue, just not in the basement, in the Oval,” McEnany said. “He promised to be transparent but he’s been anything but that.”
McEnany added “I think there is a lack of confidence from the staff. The staff knows that hiding him away worked on the campaign trail and will work for his presidency as well.”
A look back at Donald Trump’s first press conference tells a very different story. Trump was out of the box calling out the media, saying “the level of dishonesty is out of control.” He also called out the media for their stories of chaos in the new administration that he said were false.
He told the American people that “I’m here following through on what I pledged to do.”
Trump went on to enumerate a long list of accomplishments that had taken place in roughly one month.
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