Since Joe Biden moved into the White House, daily press briefings have resumed for the first time in four years, and under White House press secretary Jen Psaki, those briefings have been a wonder. In addition, Biden has made multiple appearances on television to address the nation, particularly on the topic of handling the COVID-19 pandemic and passing the American Rescue Plan. And despite Republican claims, Biden has taken questions from the press on numerous occasions.
But Biden went 44 days without holding a formal press conference, and that’s long enough that it put a large number of media outlets on boil. Right-wing media in particular has been positioning this gap as proof that, despite all the evidence of eyes and ears, Biden was somehow unable to stand up to questioning from the press corps that allowed Trump to ramble, dissemble, and lie almost unchallenged, throughout his full term.
On Thursday afternoon, Biden will break this mini-drought with his first formal press conference. The president is scheduled to appear from the East Room of the White House at 1:15 PM ET. With Biden that means he’s likely to be there … around 1:15 PM, unlike some other White House occupants.
Biden is sure to face questions about the pandemic and the recently passed American Rescue Plan. But the biggest focus of the press conference may be one that that was brought into sharp focus by recent events in Boulder, Colorado, and Atlanta, Georgia.
In the wake of two more horrific mass shootings, Biden has already spoken up. As Kerry Eleveld reported on Wednesday, Biden explicitly supported a renewal of the assault weapon ban he helped to pass in 1994. But that original bill passed along a simple majority, because Republicans (i.e. Mitch McConnell) had not yet converted the Senate into a chamber where the filibuster created a 60-vote hurdle for every bill. So if Biden spends much time fielding questions about gun laws on Thursday afternoon, it’s entirely possible this will also lead to questions around the filibuster.
Because Fox News and other propaganda media haven’t been banned from these conferences, expect Biden to spend considerable time addressing “the crisis on the border.” That would be the one in which recorded border crossing by unaccompanied minors were up 690% in the last 9 months under Donald Trump, and 61% under the first three months of Joe Biden, and one of these things warrants ABC News filming entire news shows “live from the border.”
Reporters might also get into some questions about both Russia and North Korea. Biden has been much tougher in his dealings with the leaders of those nations than was Donald Trump. With additional sanctions pending over the SolarWinds hack, and the United States set to resume joint military exercises with South Korea, either nation could come up. Don’t be shocked if some right-wing site tries to push the talk of Biden having a “debate” with Vladimir Putin.
It might also be expected that some voice will be raised about the national debt. Now that Republicans have departed, the press has once again discovered that there is a debt and begun to dust off stories about concerns over spending.
And, of course, there will be questions about the pandemic. Biden might even use this event to announce a new goal of reaching 200 million vaccinations in his first 100 days. The longer people ask about the pandemic, the more time Biden will have to discuss the unabashed good news about progress since he took office.
The press conference will be streamed live from the White House.