President Joe Biden speaks during a news conference in the East Room of the White House, Thursday, March 25, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Press-Shy Presidents?

U.S. President Joe Biden is giving his first press conference today after 64 days in office. While the time Biden waited to face the press for the first time is in fact unprecedented in modern time, the frequency of just one press conference every two months is not unheard of.

If Biden continued at his current rate of press conferences, he would average 0.46 such events every month. This is comparable to the number of press conferences Ronald Reagan gave during his eight years in office between 1981 and 1989. Richard Nixon was apparently also not a fan of addressing the press, giving an average of just 0.59 conferences per month between 1969 and his resignation five and a half years later in 1974.

While Biden has been critiqued for not scheduling a one-on-one with the press earlier, observers also pointed out that in the Internet age, information flows to the media and the public had significantly changed and that Biden did give out information through various other channels quite frequently. The coronavirus pandemic was likely a factor in holding off on the in-person meeting, but Biden is also known for his gaffes and lapses of memory that are especially likely to happen during such events.

The most frequent press conferences were given by the presidents of the 1920s, 30s and 40s, as seen in data collected by The American Presidency Project at the University of California Santa Barbara. Biden’s direct predecessors invited the press more frequently, around twice a month. Waiting longer in between taking office and holding a press conference seems to have emerged as a trend more recently independent of party affiliation. Historically, the frequency of holding press conferences has also not differed significantly between parties. Before Biden, George W. Bush held the record for the latest initial press conference, but at just 33 days, the wait time was still significantly shorter during his first term in 2001.

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Source: Statista

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