Biden heads to Baltimore for his THIRD CNN City Hall to push through the faltering agenda: President has given just 10 TV interviews, while Obama had done 131 and Trump 57 at the same point in the presidency
- President Biden heads to Baltimore on Thursday for his third CNN City Hall
- He hasn’t conducted a one-on-one interview since August 18
- He has done a total of 10, far fewer than his two immediate predecessors
- Obama at this stage had done 131 and Trump 57
- Observers say Biden’s handlers are trying to keep him away from blunders
President Joe Biden heads to Baltimore on Thursday night for his third CNN City Hall, again for his favorite TV forum while continuing to avoid one-on-one interviews.
He has only given 10 interviews in his first nine months in office, falling far short of his two immediate predecessors Donald Trump and Barack Obama who had done 57 and 131, according to Mark Knoller, a former CBS News White House correspondent who keeps a tally.
And the pace of those interviews has slowed — five came into office in Biden’s first two months.
Critics within his own party see a siege mentality in a president, even as he reaches a pivotal moment to steer his massive spending plans through Congress.
“The man has always been a blundering machine. He likes to talk, but the people around him want to control him,” said a Democratic strategist who spoke in the background to talk freely about White House strategy.
“This is one way to do it, but you lose a little bit of what makes Joe tick.”
President Biden heads to Baltimore on Thursday for a CNN town hall. It is his third appearance at such an event since taking office, but he follows his predecessors for the number of interviews
By this time in their first term, President Trump had conducted 57 interviews and President Obama, pictured in June, had conducted 131
This will be Biden’s third CNN town hall since taking office
Biden is in familiar territory on Thursday.
The town hall is complimented by Anderson Cooper who served as master of ceremonies for his first town hall as president in February.
It offers a chance to present its massive Build Back Better agenda directly to the viewing public, while its own party is divided over how to cut its $3.5 trillion worth of social programming into something that can be swallowed by moderate Democrats.
His last one-on-one interview was more than two months ago, with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos – a Clinton White House alumnus.
But it was followed by days of factual scrutiny of misleading claims, from the number of Afghan troops to whether or not there were US troops in Syria.
White House officials downplay the importance of interviews and point out that the president has regularly answered a handful of questions from reporters attending events.
But that gives him the ability to choose what to answer, presidential observers say, and allow him to just walk away whenever he wants.
Thursday’s town hall will be held before an invited audience.
“Joe Biden can sometimes stay off a message, so putting it in unscripted environments may not be the best way to communicate Joe Biden,” Democratic strategist Jamal Simmons told The Hill.
Biden’s last one-on-one interview was August 18 with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos
Still, Biden himself has joked about how his aides would rather he didn’t get talkative.
“I’m not allowed to answer questions,” he said during a visit to FEMA headquarters in August, “but go ahead.”
On that occasion, he quickly brushed aside a question about problems in Afghanistan and walked away from reporters.
In May, he answered a few questions after a COVID-19 update, but said, “I’m not supposed to answer all of these questions.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki admitted that officials wanted to play him that way.
“This is not something we recommend,” she told David Axelrod, the former Obama adviser, during an interview for his podcast.
“In fact, we often say, ‘Don’t answer questions.'”
Republicans have used Biden’s lack of interviews against him, saying the president lacks stamina or mental energy to perform the duties of the office. Some have called him “Sleepy Joe.”