Jen Psaki Locks Horns With Chris Wallace Over Biden Being 'Sheltered' From Press
US President Joe Biden is notorious for being hit and miss when it comes to public speaking. He rarely gives press conferences or sits down with reporters, because when he does, the odds are that a potentially explosive gaffe will follow.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki has clashed with CNN+ host Chris Wallace over US President Joe Biden's reluctance to sit down with the press more often.
In a half-hour long interview with the press secretary, Wallace particularly focused on Biden being "sheltered" from reporters - although Psaki was not ready to agree, arguing that the president "takes questions from the press nearly every day".
"Nearly every day at the White House, he takes questions from the White House press corps," Psaki said. "Two questions, three questions, eight questions. So why is that different?"
Wallace was quick to explain why exactly that was different, saying that when "you're standing there, you can take a question. You can answer it, you can slough it off and you can move on."
"And oftentimes, he gives a partial answer and walks away. It in no way compares to sitting down with a reporter for 20 minutes, 30 minutes, and having -- you can't move away, you can duck it, you've got to sit there and answer the question and the follow-up. It's not the same thing," the CNN+ host argued.
Psaki resorted to an "agree to disagree" response.
Biden's most recent press conference occurred in late March, but this is not the first time when observers have noted that the president is largely shying away from reporters. While indeed taking questions on a daily basis at the White House, Biden usually responds briefly and then walks away. Even in such situations, he occasionally drops a gaffe, as he frequently does when he is delivering a public speech.
The US president has long faced criticism for his sometimes awkward public behaviour. Among his latest mishaps was the infamous "air handshake", when, after delivering remarks, he moved to shake hands with someone who was simply not there. Last week, when announcing his nominee for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, he mixed up the abbreviations, and also mispronounced the name of his candidate.