President Biden has not held a press conference 43 days into office, marking the longest stretch at the start of a presidency in at least a century.
An analysis of presidential records examined by CNN White House reporter Kevin Liptak found that at least 15 of Biden’s predecessors held a press conference within 33 days in office.
Biden, who was often critical of former President Donald Trump’s hostile relationship with the media, has been facing questions about dodging the press for weeks, including from Brett Bruen, White House director of global engagement under former President Barack Obama.
“He talks about the role of journalists as being a critical one, and yet, access to a president is really the barometer by which we judge the importance that a president assigns to the media,” Bruen said.
Bruen added that while it may be beneficial in the short term for Biden’s team to keep tight control over his appearances, it can also be “counterproductive to the kind of connection that both the White House needs with journalists as well as the president needs with the people.”
Every president since at least 1923 has held a press conference within 33 days of taking office, including Trump, who held one 27 days in, and Obama, who took questions 20 days after arriving at the White House.
Last week, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that Biden would hold a press conference but would not commit to a specific time frame.
“He will hold a solo press conference, but I don’t have a date for you at this point in time,” she said.
In January, Psaki told reporters that she was “bringing truth and transparency back to the briefing room” and said that “rebuilding trust with the American people will be central to our focus in the press office and in the White House every single day.”
Transparency has also been an issue for Biden when it comes to his schedule, which has not been posted online. Additionally, the White House comment line has been shut down, there are no citizen petitions on the White House website, and the White House has not released visitor logs.
“The steps they’ve taken are welcome but insufficient to the moment and the need,” Alex Howard of the left-leaning Digital Democracy Project at the Demand Progress Educational Fund said about Biden’s availability. “They need to keep ‘showing their work’ by opening Cabinet meetings, disclosing information, and using political capital to emphasize that being ‘open by default’ isn’t just an option but an obligation across the government.”
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Washington Examiner.