I believe presidents should hold news conferences. I also believe presidents should not lie, that their administrations should be honest and transparent, and that they should not attack the press as "enemies of the people."A lot of journalists on Twitter, in print, and on TV have been making a lot of noise over how long President Biden has gone without holding his first press conference. They have compared it with other presidents, including the previous one. Those who defend President Biden make their case on a number of fronts: he has a lot of crises on his plate; he didn't want to imperil the passage of the recovery act; his administration is holding regular briefings; this is an obsession of the press corps and the public doesn't really care, and so on. (Yesterday Biden’s press secretary Jen Psaki announced his first press conference will be Thursday, March 25.)
As a former White House reporter, I want to be clear where I stand. I believe press conferences are important and thus agree with my colleagues that President Biden should regularly face questions in a wide-open, everything on the table formal process. It comes with the job. The president must be able to defend his policies. And just because this isn't a major issue for the public doesn't mean it shouldn't happen.At the same time, I recognize that there is a theater to the spectacle of these events. Even though I had some well-known showdowns of my own with presidents, the vast majority of the reporting I did at the White House was in working sources not querying the Commander in Chief in front of the cameras.As others have noted, there is also something particularly disingenuous about holding Donald Trump's press conferences as a comparison. He used those to lie and to attack the press.
So my question for all of you, both working journalists and others, is what do you think of this issue? Should this be a bigger deal? Or is it not something you worry about?
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Some ground rules for these Wednesday chats (and also the comments sections on other posts): I want a space where people feel safe to express their views, as long as they are offered in good faith.I want a space where ideas can be challenged, especially my own. I want debate. But I want it to be civil. I want people to come here with open minds, and open hearts.I want this to be fun as well as serious.We can agree to disagree without being disagreeable.
Some ground rules for these Wednesday chats (and also the comments sections on other posts):
I want a space where people feel safe to express their views, as long as they are offered in good faith.
I want a space where ideas can be challenged, especially my own.
I want debate. But I want it to be civil.
I want people to come here with open minds, and open hearts.
I want this to be fun as well as serious.
We can agree to disagree without being disagreeable.