Barack Obama and Donald Trump did not even wait a month before engaging in this potentially perilous exercise. Joe Biden delayed the deadline for 65 days.
Even Donald Trump had better respected the timing of this potentially perilous exercise. 65 days after taking office, Joe Biden will finally hold his first press conference this Thursday, March 25.
His Republican predecessor like Barack Obama participated in this long face-to-face meeting with journalists much more quickly, on February 16, 2017 and February 10, 2009 respectively. That is three and four weeks only after their arrival at the White House.
Biden took a lot more time before giving in to this meeting, which typically lasts a good hour. What feed the critics, mainly from the right, who denounce a president ultra protected from his own reputation as a blunderer by his teams.
“He has participated in about 40 questions and answers since his arrival,” his spokesperson Jen Psaki was annoyed in mid-March. But these informal and rapid exchanges between the president and the journalists who are accredited to follow him have little to do with the meeting which will be held this Wednesday from 1:15 p.m. from the White House (i.e. 6:15 p.m. in France).
This meeting is indeed more intense because it allows journalists in particular to revive the president and ask him specific and varied questions. And unlike the on-the-fly exchanges to which political reporters have had the right for the moment, the Head of State will be behind his desk and will not be able to evade any question by simply leaving the room under the pretext of a busy schedule.
The exercise itself usually lasts about 50 minutes, after an introduction by the chairman. A more or less short introduction: Obama devoted eight minutes to it, Trump no less than 24 minutes. The Head of State then answered questions from several dozen journalists usually present in the room, a workforce which this time may be reduced in the face of Covid-19 and health measures.
Many files on the menu
The coronavirus, vaccination, aid and its management will undoubtedly be among the subjects that will be discussed on Wednesday. In addition to relations with Russia, China, tax increases on high incomes, immigration, the health system and even firearms, for the umpteenth time in the spotlight with the recent deadly shootings who mourned the country.
The files on which the Democratic president is scrutinized are therefore not lacking and the Biden administration has been at the very least busy since coming to power, failing to express itself formally to the press regularly. A discretion that could also be a tactic to avoid the mistakes of his Republican predecessor. “I think they’re trying to show they’re not Trump. That they are not omnipresent, with an opinion on everything and all the time, ”said Tony Fratto, former vice-spokesperson for George W. Bush, with the ABC channel.
Whatever performance Joe Biden performs on Wednesday will then remain to be seen if he replicates the exercise by the end of the year. Trump had admittedly quickly organized his first conference, but then did not repeat the exercise for the rest of 2017. Obama had done so seven times and Bush four in their first year.