On Tuesday's installment of its "West Wing Playbook" newsletter, Politico reporters Alex Thompson and Tina Sfondeles began by highlighting that Biden has only participated in "just 10" interviews in the first nine months of his presidency, not one since Labor Day.
His tally pales in comparison to the 57 interviews Donald Trump had done as well as Barack Obama's 131 interviews at the same point in their presidencies, according to the "presidential watcher" and former CBS reporter Mark Knoller. They also note that Biden had done "at least double" the interviews at this point in the Obama era as vice president.
"Biden’s team is quick to note that he often takes questions from reporters after he does events. Allies of the president are even quicker to note that no one outside of the Washington press corps really cares about press access," Politico wrote. "But the lack of interviews reflects the bunker mentality this White House has taken with the media — particularly the extensive back-and-forths where reporters can follow-up, push, and prod."
"Biden has been especially wary of talking to print publications; he has yet to do an interview with reporters from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Associated Press, or Reuters," the newsletter added.
Politico pointed out the only three print interviews he had done so far had been with New York Times columnist David Brooks, The Atlantic columnist Edward-Isaac Dovere and with People Magazine as part of a joint interview with First Lady Jill Biden. Biden also granted seven televised interviews with CBS' Norah O'Donnell, Univision's Ilia Calderón (another joint interview with the first lady), ESPN's Sage Steele, NBC's Craig Melvin, MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell and twice with ABC's George Stephanopoulos. Additionally, he has participated in two CNN town halls with the third one airing Thursday.
An unnamed White House official told Politico that the "preference" for TV interviews was to "reach more people" and that D.C. press is "too focused on process, which is not the message Biden wants to get to voters."
"That, combined with Biden’s well-documented blooper reel, doesn’t give the White House much enthusiasm for extensive sitdowns," Politico wrote.
Politico went on to challenge the White House's claim that it wants Biden to have "reach" with a CNN town hall, writing, "While the first one in the early weeks of Biden’s presidency scored a large audience, his July town hall underperformed both MSNBC and Fox News’ regular programming, with 1.46 million viewers.