Republicans slammed President Biden on Friday over a report that said he’s gone 100 days without a sit-down press interview — accusing him of being non-transparent and hiding from tough questions about his record.
Biden’s most recent known one-on-one interview with a professional journalist was on Feb. 10 with Lester Holt of NBC for the Super Bowl, the Washington Examiner noted in a widely circulated report.
Abigail Marone, a former Donald Trump campaign aide and current press secretary to Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), mockingly tweeted, “it’s so great to have a President who cares about transparency and the press! adults are back in charge, baby!!!!!!!”
Chad Gilmartin, a former Trump White House press aide who now works for House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), tweeted, “Biden has done ZERO media interviews in 100 days. Despite his claims of ‘extraordinary success’ and ‘extraordinary progress,’ Biden simply cannot defend his record of FAILURE.”
Tommy Hicks, a co-chair of the Republican National Committee, wrote, “100 days since the Big Guy sat down with a reporter. What do you think Biden is more afraid of talking about: His failed record on any given topic, or his obvious involvement in his son’s shady business dealings?”
Biden’s relative lack of interviews has been a consistent feature of his presidency.
The 46th president sat for just 28 interviews during his first year in office. By contrast, Donald Trump gave 95 interviews, Barack Obama did 162 and George W. Bush granted 50 interviews during their first year as president, according to records kept by White House Transition Project Director Martha Kumar.
Even Ronald Reagan, who was shot in the lung by a would-be assassin two months after taking office, outstripped Biden — doing 65 interviews in his first year. Reagan, who also broke a rib and suffered internal bleeding when he was shot by John Hinckley Jr., gave his first post-attack interview less than a month later.
The White House did not respond to The Post’s requests for comment about whether there were any sit-down interviews with journalists that were not widely known between Feb. 10 and Friday.
There’s no official repository of presidential interviews — leaving the tabulations to informal record-keepers such as Kumar, former CBS News reporter Mark Knoller and the platform Factba.se. The counts can vary due to different standards for what counts as an interview and differing visibility into local or off-the-record interviews.
Biden arguably has given at least four interviews since Feb. 10, but none of them were on-the-record sit-downs with professional journalists.
On Feb. 25, Biden taped two separate podcasts — a roughly 13-minute talk with Democratic activist Brian Cohen and a nearly 30-minute conversation with left-leaning Boston College professor Heather Richardson. Cohen said afterward that “I’m not a journalist … I have my agenda and I think this White House is doing a good job trying to enact some of it. Our goals are aligned.”
On March 1, Biden hosted a traditional off-the-record lunch with TV anchors ahead of his first State of the Union address to Congress. He allowed attendees to report his remarks on the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Biden also gave a two-word reply to CNN reporter Kaitlan Collins on March 18, saying as he passed her in the West Wing that his call that day with Chinese President Xi Jinping “went well.” A similarly fleeting Biden exchange with Collins counted toward his 2021 interview tally, according to some record-keepers.
Interviews allow journalists the opportunity to dive deep into topics and to challenge the president on his assertions and performance. The format can be wide-ranging and reach beyond the news-of-the-day commentary that comprises much of cable news coverage.
Biden, who turns 80 this year, is the oldest-ever president and his critics frequently accuse him of being in mental decline. But some Biden supporters, including sympathetic journalists, believe that he’s overprotected by staff who fear distracting gaffes or off-the-cuff commentary that has significant domestic or international ramifications.
At this year’s White House Easter Egg Roll, director of message planning Meghan Hays interrupted Biden’s attempt to answer a reporter’s question about Afghanistan, dressing up as the Easter Bunny and waving her arms to draw his attention away from the press.
After a March trip to Poland where Biden called for Russian President Vladimir Putin to be removed from power after launching an unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, White House chief of staff Ron Klain retweeted a message that said his boss showed a “lapse in discipline.”
Since last year, the White House press office has pre-screened journalists allowed within earshot of Biden at events in the East Room and the White House-adjacent Eisenhower Executive Office Building — when comparable events were open to all journalists in prior administrations.
The criteria for selecting reporters allowed into those events was never explained to the White House press corps and leaders of the White House Correspondents’ Association remain in the dark. The practice is believed to be a way of shaping the variety of questions presented to the president. Reporters have been given a range of conflicting explanations and some major news outlets, including The Post, are almost never permitted to attend.
At points, Biden has appeared eager to counter the notion that he’s unavailable to the press.
After sustained coverage of Biden’s relative lack of press conferences, the president in January gave a 1 hour, 52-minute press conference that was longer than any hosted by Trump or Obama, according to Knoller — continuing to take questions long after his press handlers signaled it was time to wrap.