President Joe Biden has long fueled speculation that his handlers significantly limit his exposure to the press.
This week, the president’s staff once again attracted criticism, this time for clearing reporters from the room ahead of Biden’s conference call with the nation’s governors.
“I understand you guys might have some questions”
After offering some initial remarks, he offered gratitude for the “partnership” of state leaders.
Referencing White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeffrey Zients, Biden concluded: “With that, I will turn it back over to Jeff and I understand you guys might have some questions. Jeff?”
For whatever reason, Zients felt it would be best to remove reporters from the room before Biden offered any unscripted answers.
“Good,” the White House adviser replied. “I think we are going to clear the press first.”
Of course, this is just the latest incident to bolster concerns that Biden avoids the media entirely when confronted by difficult circumstances or tough questions. Fox News noted that he was criticized earlier this year for refusing to take questions related to the chaotic withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.
“They gave me a list here”
Even CNN’s David Chalian gently chided the president in a tweet, declaring: “President Biden seems to be getting better at leaving the room without taking reporters’ questions at precisely the moment he has many many questions to answer.”
Biden has also suggested that his interactions with the media are closely controlled by his staff.
“Ladies and gentlemen, they gave me a list here,” he said during one Afghanistan-related press briefing. “The first person I was instructed to call on was Kelly O’Donnell from NBC.”
Such incidents have led to a broader discussion among some critics publicly speculating about who is truly in control of the Biden administration. In September, Sen. James Risch (R-ID) cited the moment Biden’s video feed was cut mid-sentence, leading the lawmaker to ask who was “calling the shots” at the White House.
In addition to his dismissive attitude toward the media, widespread concerns about his cognitive health, and plummeting poll numbers, some reports suggest nearly three in four Republicans still refuse to accept the legitimacy of the president’s victory over former President Donald Trump last year.