WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden was fielding his fourth question from a reporter after delivering remarks on the pandemic last week when he apologized to the press corps.
“Look, I’m sorry. This is the last question I’ll take,” Biden said. “I’m really going to be in trouble.”
In trouble? Really?
In fact, yes, White House press secretary Jen Psaki divulged in a podcast interview this week.
Psaki told CNN’s David Axelrod that the communications shop frowns on Biden’s willingness to engage with reporters who shout questions during Biden’s public appearances.
“That is not something we recommend,” Psaki said. “In fact, a lot of times we say `Don’t take questions.’ ”
But, she conceded, “He’s going to do what he wants to do, because he’s the president of the United States.”
Psaki, who expects to step down from her high-profile and high-pressure job in about a year, spoke candidly about the effort of keeping on message a president who likes to interact with people, including reporters.
That means staying focused on the issues the White House wants to talk about – particularly what’s being done to stop the pandemic and get the economy back on track. It also means staying away from controversial issues like the surge of migrants at the border.
Psaki said one reason the White House resisted calling the situation a “crisis,” despite reporters’ persistently pressing why officials wouldn’t use that term, was to not give the media a “nugget” that could run across the bottom of television screens or be tweeted out.