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Trump at White House Covid-19 press briefing

Photo by The White House is marked with CC PDM 1.0

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

After years of defending Donald Trump, Republicans are attacking President Joe Biden for lack of "presidential transparency." But Trump's administration set modern records for holding the fewest press conferences.

On Tuesday, the Republican National Committee tweeted a video noting that it has been "49 days without a Biden press conference."

"Every day Pres. Biden goes without a press conference, he sets a new modern record for a lack of presidential transparency," they charged.

Trump's former White House press secretary — turned Fox commentator — Kayleigh McEnany launched a similar attack on the new administration last week.

"Where's Joe? It's been 41 days, at this point President Trump had had multiple press appearances, press conferences. President Barack Obama had as well," she told Fox News.

This claim is highly misleading. While Trump held his first formal solo press conference on Feb. 16, 2017 — nearly a month into his lone term — he gave exactly zero more over his entire first year. His then-spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders claimed in early 2018 that more were unnecessary because Trump frequently communicated with the public "through Twitter."

According to the American Presidency Project, Trump gave the fewest in the first year of his administration of any president dating back to Calvin Coolidge.

He gave just nine solo press conferences over the first three years of his administration, before giving 35 in his pandemic-plagued final year.

Biden has not yet given a solo press conference but has repeatedly taken press questions in less formal settings.

Moreover, Biden's administration has been providing daily press briefings. Press secretary Jen Psaki takes questions from reporters at each, representing the administration.

The Trump White House repeatedly set records for the longest gaps between press briefings. In one period in 2019 and 2020, the administration went more than 300 days without a formal briefing.

Over that time, Stephanie Grisham held the title of White House press secretary for more than nine months without ever giving a single press briefing. Last January, two authors offered to donate $200,000 to charity if she gave even one briefing. She still refused.

Though Trump often called himself the "most transparent" president in history and took occasional questions at impromptu press gaggles outside the White House, his administration also attempted to restrict access to unfriendly reporters, revoking press passes from several White House journalists.

"We look forward to holding a full formal press conference, but in the meantime the president takes questions from the reporters covering the White House regularly, including this morning," Psaki told CNN last week. "And his focus day in and day out is on getting the pandemic under control and putting people back to work. That's what people elected him to do."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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