It’s now been 16 weeks since President Biden sat down for a one-on-one interview, with the last one occurring before the Super Bowl in the dead of winter.
You read that correctly: 112 days have passed since Joe Biden faced questions outside of the rare press conference or press scrum. Such a format doesn’t leave much room for follow-up questions or pressing on certain points when this president makes a misleading or curious statement — statements that seemingly always need to be clarified or cleaned up not long after being uttered.
So much has changed in those 16 weeks since Biden engaged in such a format.
Inflation – which was at 1.4 percent at the end of 2020, as Biden prepared to enter office – is almost six times higher now, at 8.3 percent. Gas prices have hit an all-time high and are only going to get worse as we continue into the summer months and travel increases, as it always does. Americans overwhelmingly want energy independence, but the president and his administration keep resisting. Why? It would be nice to hear Biden’s answer on this.
So-called voting rights were a big issue around the time the president sat down with NBC’s Lester Holt on Feb. 13. As you may recall, the White House and most Democrats on Capitol Hill were seeking to take away voting laws from individual states and federalize the process. But thanks to Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), they fell short in the Senate, by a 48-52 vote.
To add insult to injury, the narrative pushed by liberals and some allies in the media about voter suppression and minorities being kept from the polls and “Democracy hanging in the balance” all turned out to be malarkey. Exhibit A came out of the Georgia primaries last week, where voting was up by 212 percent when compared to the 2020 presidential primaries, and up by 168 percent from the 2018 primaries.
Since that last interview, we’ve horrifyingly witnessed more than 20 school shootings. The White House said Tuesday that forfeiting schools is not something the president “believes in.”
“I know there’s been conversation about hardening schools, that is not something he believes in,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters. “He believes that we should be able to give teachers the resources to be able to do their job.”
That kind of statement absolutely deserves a follow-up or three.
Crime overall continues its alarming trend in many parts of the country, with criminals seemingly more brazen than ever. This follows a year when murders hit a 25-year high. Poorer, urban communities are being hit hardest.
Since the last time Biden took questions with one reporter for an extended period of time, approximately 750,000 people have crossed the U.S. border illegally — yet another crisis that is only getting worse instead of better.
And, of course, there was Russia’s insidious invasion of Ukraine, which occurred in late February. The president has said the U.S. will “respond in kind” if Russia decides to use chemical weapons against Ukraine. Is he saying we’ll use chemical weapons too? Biden also said, and later stood by his statement, that Russian President Vladimir Putin needs to be removed from power. How, exactly, would that occur in a nuclear-armed dictatorship?
There are so many things to talk about, from the Supreme Court to abortion to education to baby formula. But the president’s handlers simply are too afraid, too cautious, too controlling to allow the commander in chief to answer crucial questions when accountability is more warranted and important than ever, given where we are as a country right now.
On that front, just 24 percent of Democratic voters say they’re satisfied with the direction of the country, per Gallup. Overall, about eight in 10 Americans say the country is on the wrong path. Those are devastating numbers.
It would be interesting to hear what the president thinks about the direction of the country, because he’s reportedly somehow “mystified” by his low approval rating, which is even below that of Donald Trump’s at this stage of his presidency when it was dominated by farcical claims of Russia collusion. Biden also is reportedly “frustrated” that his aides keep jumping in to clean up his statements. It begs a big question: Who exactly is in charge in this administration?
Let’s face it: The results around inflation, gas prices, crime, the border and foreign policy have been as clear as mud. And the attempts to pass the buck through snappy hashtags have failed miserably, with “#PutinPriceHike” and “#Ultra-MAGA” being the most recent examples.
Give credit to Biden’s old boss, President Obama: He did interviews, lots of them, sometimes with outlets that could make things uncomfortable, as they should be with any president. Context: In his first year in office, Biden did 22 sit-down interviews; Obama did 156 — more than seven times as many. More context: Donald Trump did 92 interviews, or more than four times as many.
Will Biden sit down with anyone considered a decent journalist anytime soon?
It doesn’t appear so.
The party, in serious jeopardy of losing power in the House and Senate, could use a leader right now. But these days it seems you’d be more likely to find Joe Biden at Mar-a-Lago than sitting across from anyone with a microphone and camera.
Joe Concha is a media and politics columnist.