Joe Biden is hardly in hiding. Barely a week passes when he doesn’t tour a factory or host a meeting in the Oval Office. He gives interviews and takes questions from time to time as he moves through his calendar. What he has yet to do is hold a formal news conference. Donald Trump, Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton—every president since Calvin Coolidge had given a news conference by a comparable point in his term. Biden’s debut comes tomorrow—65 days into his presidency—when he’ll appear in the East Room before a press corps who will ask questions, squeeze in follow-up questions, and, in rising desperation as the spectacle winds down, shout questions unbidden.
Overlooked is that Biden and his team are also making a strategic bet. Limiting his exposure to the press and, by extension, the public isn’t simply a defensive ploy to avoid an embarrassing gaffe. It’s a conscious calculation that people don’t need—or want—to hear from the president on an hour-by-hour basis, that they will be satisfied if he can revive the economy and end the pandemic. After all, Americans just had a president who entered their life and refused to leave, who gripped the megaphone and wouldn’t let go. Biden has no wish to resurrect Donald Trump’s in-your-face presidency.
“People aren’t beating down the door and saying, ‘Why isn’t he in my living room every day? Why am I not seeing that big face staring at me and promoting himself in some way?’” Mark Mellman, a Democratic pollster, told me. “People are happy to see Joe Biden when they see him. But they’re happy not to see him every day.”
Moderator Note: News Views will post the first Biden press briefing tomorrow, Thursday, March 25 Live; we look forward to seeing you there.