As of Saturday, Joe Biden has gone 204 days without giving a sit-down interview to a journalist. What’s even more incredible about this gap is that, when he does them, the President is almost always greeted with softballs. In that way, he’s no different than the last Democratic president, Barack Obama.
It was 12 years ago this week, August 29, 2010, that Obama enjoyed some particularly easy questions. NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams gushed to the Democratic president:
I’m hoping to find you in a reflective mood on a cloudy day. We’re the first to speak to you coming off your summer vacation. How does it re-charge you? What do you think about? What do you see? What do you read about? How are you thinking about your job these days?”
Another query from that interview, part of which played on MSNBC.com, “Do you have anything new on the economy?” Other questions weren’t even questions as attempts to connect all critics to birther conspiracy theorists:
Mr. President, you're an American-born Christian....And yet increasing and now significant numbers of Americans in polls, upwards of a fifth of respondents, are claiming you are neither. A fifth of the people, just about, believe you're a Muslim....This has to be troubling to you.
Despite the fact that both Obama and Biden enjoy fawning media coverage, the former allowed many more interviews than the latter. As The Guardian noted in June:
From taking office on 20 January 2021 up to 29 April 2022, Biden gave 23 interviews. Between 20 January 2017 and 29 April 2018, by contrast, Trump gave 95 interviews, according to the White House Transition Project, a non-partisan group that chronicles presidential communications.
Over their equivalent periods, Barack Obama gave 187 interviews, George W Bush gave 60, Bill Clinton gave 64, George HW Bush gave 70 and Ronald Reagan gave 78, the Project found. Biden has also held fewer solo press conferences than other recent presidents.
Apparently, there’s no interview too laudatory for Biden’s White House staffers. But they just to ignore the press. What’s shocking is that journalists don’t seem to mind.
For more examples from our flashback series, which we call the NewsBusters Time Machine, go here.