Gaffe-prone US President Joe Biden has gone 50 days without answering reporters' questions — breaking a 100-year record.
Wednesday marked Biden's 50th day in office, making him the first president in at least 100 years to go that long without holding an open Q&A session with the media.
“Instead of taking questions and speaking directly to the American people, Joe Biden is hiding in the basement waiting for direction from his liberal handlers,” the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) said in a statement.
The last 15 US presidents all held their first presser within 33 days. Barack Obama's first formal outing was on the 20th day of his presidency, while Donald Trump's was on the 27th.
"Americans deserve to hear directly from the President, but Biden’s liberal handlers won’t let him out of the basement," the NRSC said. "What are they so afraid of?"
Biden's public speeches during his election campaign and since taking office have been laden with embarrassing gaffes, verbal fumbles and memory lapses, leading to speculation that the 78-year-old president may be losing his marbles and that Vice-President Kamala Harris may replace him mid-term.
Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin's name and job title slipped the mind of man with his finger on the nuclear button on Monday during a White House ceremony marking International Women's Day with the promotion of two woman generals to four-star status
"I wanna thank you both and I wanna thank the, the er, former general — I keep calling him general — my, my, uh, the guy who runs that outfit over there," Biden stammered, as Austin stood to his left. "I wanna make sure we thank... the secretary for all he's done to try to implement what we just talked about and for recommending these two women for promotion."
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) March 8, 2021
Biden looked sheepish as he ended his speech and turned to Vice-President Kamala Harris, US Air Force General Jacqueline Van Ovost and US Army Lieutenant General Laura Richardson standing behind him.
The 78-year-old president's appointment of Austin, the first black person to hold his post, was hailed as proof of his commitment to diversity in government. Austin immediately identified the military's number one enemy as "white supremacy" and "right-wing extremism" in its own ranks.
Critics have pointed out that Biden has yet to give even a one-on-one interview without Harris, his wife Jill or other minders alongside him.
White House press officials even cut the live feed to two of his virtual addresses after the President offered to take questions from the press. And on Tuesday, Biden's aides blocked reporters trying to ask questions of him during a visit to a hardware store.