President Joe Biden‘s carefully crafted media strategy of engaging in brief but regular exchanges with the press while avoiding full press conferences and splashy media events is coming in for criticism even from allies amid his lingering low approval ratings.
With Biden’s approval rating at just 43 per cent in a FiveThirtyEight poll average, some of his moves are now being second-guessed, and some allies want Biden to put himself out more to sell his administration’s policies.
He has conducted far fewer sit-down interviewers than his predecessor. He has also held fewer press conferences, although often he takes a few questions after individual statements or before boarding Marine One or Air Force One.
President Joe Biden, center, speaks as he announces that he is nominating Jerome Powell, left, for a second four-year term as Federal Reserve chair and Lael Brainard, right, as vice chair, the No. 2 slot at the Federal Reserve, during an event in the South Court Auditorium on the White House complex in Washington, Monday, Nov. 22, 2021. He did not take questions following the event, nor did he at an event on the economy Tuesday
On Monday, held what might have been a high octane event by announcing his appointment of Federal Reserve Board chairman Jerome Powell. But he didn’t take questions, instead choosing to make off-topic remarks about the tragedy in Kenosha at the top of the event.
Former Bill Clinton strategist James Carville, who blasted ‘woke’ Democrats following the party’s loss in the Virginia governor’s race, criticized the White House promotional efforts in comments to the New York Times.
President Joe Biden (R) greets White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki (C) and her husband Gregory Mecher (L) at the 74th National Thanksgiving Turkey presentation in the Rose Garden of the White House, in Washington, DC, USA, 19. Psaki has defended Biden’s press access, pointing to his informal exchanges with reporters following events
Former President Donald Trump sparred with the press, sometimes calling them ‘fake news’
‘What I believe in is sell, sell, sell,’ said Democratic operative James Carville
Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.) faulted the White House for ‘not getting the job done on messaging’
‘What I believe in is sell, sell, sell,’ he told the paper. ”What they’re missing is salesmanship. Everybody wants to be a policy maven, and no one wants to go door to door and sell pots and pans.’
A series of polls have showed most Americans don’t know what’s in major programs being pushed by Biden – and the White House has often chided reporters for not focusing on it more.
But Biden himself has made his own decisions on how to sell it, and some of the confusion may be due to the party’s decision to split major programs into separate infrastructure and ‘Build Back Better’ packages for parliamentary reasons to appease factions and get it through the Senate.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told the Time Biden has had more informal Q&As with reporters than his immediate predecessors had by this point.
‘Taking 30 questions from the national press in a week, or over the course of 10 days or two weeks, is an opportunity for the national press corps to ask him tough questions and do follow-ups,’ she said. ‘He fully expects it and he engages in it.’
Donald Trump regularly fielded questions when departing the White House and at events – although he often veered into diatribes against the ‘fake news’ and often went after reporters personally. His sessions after events with world leaders also would often bring media exchanges in the Oval Office or the East Room of the White House.
As for longer interviews, the Times said Biden had done a dozen one-on-ones with media outlets, compared to 50 for Trump and 100 for Barack Obama nine months into their terms.
Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.) faulted the White House for ‘not getting the job done on messaging’ in comments to the Times. His party has skin in the game: Democrats could lose control of the House if Biden isn’t able to turn around his approval ratings.
He called for aides to cut the president loose and ‘to get himself out there.’
Biden has spent decades in politics and is conversant nearly all the top issues, although he sometimes still delves into Senate-speak that can be hard to translate.
He regularly reads from a teleprompter for prepared remarks, although he sometimes stumbles. Biden overcame a speech impediment during his youth. The White House physician noted in Biden’s physical Friday that he wrote him a new contact lens prescription.