Biden White House: message discipline, no news conference

| | Washington
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Biden White House: message discipline, no news conference

Sunday, 07 March 2021 | AP | Washington

No news conference. No Oval Office address. No primetime speech to a joint session of Congress.

President Joe Biden is the first executive in four decades to reach this point in his term without holding a formal question and answer session.

It reflects a White House media strategy meant both to reserve major media set-pieces for the celebration of a legislative victory and to limit unforced errors from a historically gaffe-prone politician. Biden has opted to take questions about as often as most of his recent predecessors, but he tends to field just one or two informal inquiries at a time, usually in a hurried setting at the end of an event.

In a sharp contrast with the previous administration, the White House is exerting extreme message discipline, empowering staff to speak but doing so with caution.

Recalling both Biden’s largely leak-free campaign and the buttoned-up Obama administration, the new White House team has carefully managed the president’s appearances, trying to lower the temperature from Donald Trump’s Washington and to save a big media moment to mark what could soon be a signature accomplishment: passage of the Covid-19 bill.

The message control may serve the president’s purposes but it denies the media opportunities to directly press Biden on major policy issues and to engage in the kind of back-and-forth that can draw out information and thoughts that go beyond the administration’s curated talking points.        

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