White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki made the frank admission Thursday that the White House is careful to manage President Joe Biden’s exposure to the media and the wider American public.
According to The Daily Wire, the press secretary told former President Barack Obama adviser David Axelrod in a CNN podcast that Biden’s staffers don’t like it when he answers questions from reporters spontaneously. “In fact, a lot of times we say, ‘Don’t take questions,’ you know, but he’s going to do what he wants to do because he’s the president of the United States,” she said.
“Says what’s on his mind”
Both Axelrod and Psaki diplomatically skirted around the elephant in the room: that Biden is rumored to be in cognitive decline. Axelrod led the discussion by noting that Biden has a notorious habit of making awkward statements, and remarked that the White House is “doing a good job of managing” Biden with carefully controlled press events.
“His strength is that he says what’s on his mind, and his weakness is he says what’s on his mind, and sometimes that’s not helpful,” Axelrod commented, according to the New York Post.
In an oddly patronizing response, Psaki spun Biden’s meager press access as impressive, saying he “takes questions nearly every day.” But she acknowledged that answering reporters off-script is “not something we recommend” and said that journalists are “never” going to be satisfied with the access the White House is willing to provide, as The Daily Wire noted.
Psaki also said that having Biden engage more than he is now would leave reporters pressing further, something she indicated the White House is not keen about.
She spun the lack of access as limiting “distractions” and making the best use of Biden’s time and bandwidth to address the issues she said Americans care about most: the coronavirus and economy.
Although many Americans want to know why Biden hasn’t been to the border, Psaki included the border crisis among the “distractions.” She called it a “challenge” and said she “didn’t want to feed into” what she claimed was a media frenzy to sensationalize the issue.
“We understand and know the nature of some components of social media and media these days,” Psaki said, according to USA Today. “And we just didn’t want to feed into that, on this issue, or really any issue.”
A few regrets
In other tidbits, Psaki announced that she doesn’t expect to stay in the high-intensity job of press secretary for more than a year, as the Post reported.
While Biden is known for his blunders, Psaki said she also regrets comments she has made here and there, particularly an incident early on in her current job when she mocked the Space Force.
Biden, for his part, has only given one formal press conference, back in March, where he answered questions from pre-selected reporters, according to Fox News.