President Joe Biden will conduct the first official press conference of his tenure on Thursday -- a time-honored tradition that will come later than in earlier presidencies with a different look due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He has held out on a press conference for longer than his 15 predecessors, waiting until the 64th day of his term to take questions from reporters committed to covering his every action.
Biden's 1st Official Press Conference
Historian Martha Joynt Kumar deems Joe Biden's press conference a "high-risk, high-reward" among other presidential news conferences. Back to former president Bill Clinton, the previous four presidents each held one solo White House news conference in their initial 60 days.
The White House is looking to use Biden's first news conference since being inducted into the office to celebrate the passage of the massive COVID-19 relief package. However, the president is reportedly sure to face questioning on Thursday regarding a growing list of challenges facing his administration, and many of them are unforeseen, reported AP.
Rising international tensions, a pair of mass shootings, early signs of intraparty divisions, and increasing numbers of migrants crossing the southern border are all confronting an Oval Office known for its message discipline. For the past four decades, Biden is the first commander-in-chief to reach this point in his term without initiating a formal question-and-answer session, reported Yahoo.
According to White House press secretary Jen Psaki in her briefing on Tuesday, the president was pondering on what he wants to convey, what he wants to say, where he could provide updates, and anticipating an opportunity to engage with a free press. The event has been much anticipated, with the secretary being posed with multiple questions regarding the time and date in the past few weeks, reported ABC News.
Former President Donald Trump held at least five news conferences by that time, Bill Clinton at least four, and Barack Obama two. The novel coronavirus pandemic has kept foreign leaders away from the White House this 2021.
Biden will convene with reporters for the event in the White House's East Room that will be nationally televised afternoon. According to Psaki, the event is an opportunity for Biden to address the American public, obviously directly through the coverage and directly through all the press.
According to Joe Lockhart, the White House press secretary under President Bill Clinton, the timing could not be better for the current president. Lockhart stated Biden has conveniently exceeded his campaign initiative on vaccines, and that deserves the display and circumstance of a full press conference at the White House.
The Biden administration is a reportedly tight ship, fully aware of its history of flubs, and Biden himself is a self-described "gaffe machine." He cycled through the 2020 campaign with a lack of news conferences and often focused on the pandemic.
While Biden has been on the same track with previous presidents in taking press queries in other formats, he has a tendency to field just one or two informal inquiries at a time. It is usually done in a hurried setting in front of a whirring helicopter or at the end of an event.