Jill Biden and White House aides 'protect' Biden from the press: Report

 February 10, 2024

In a revealing look into the inner workings of the White House, strategies to manage President Joe Biden's public persona have come under scrutiny.

This investigation sheds light on efforts by the White House and First Lady Jill Biden to navigate President Biden's challenges with public speaking and memory.

President Joe Biden has held fewer press conferences or formal interviews three years into his presidency than any of his predecessors in recent history. This strategic choice points towards an attempt to carefully manage the President's public interactions, amid concerns over his verbal gaffes and memory lapses.

A Close Look at Presidential Press Engagements

The instances when President Biden does engage with the press, often late at night and when he is alone, reveal a preference for unscripted interactions. However, these moments are rare and typically happen away from the structured environment of formal press conferences.

When First Lady Jill Biden accompanies the President, it signals a clear message: no questions will be entertained. This has become an unspoken rule observed by reporters, highlighting her significant role in managing the President's public appearances.

Special Counsel Robert Hur's report, which described President Biden as an "elderly man with a poor memory," further underscores concerns about the President's capacity to engage without safeguards. This characterization has fueled discussions about the necessity of the tactics employed by the White House.

Strategic Management of Public Interactions

With only three solo White House press conferences since January 2021, President Biden's limited direct engagement with the media is evident. This approach seems to be a calculated effort to minimize opportunities for missteps that could dominate news cycles.

During a press conference in November 2022, Jill Biden's strategic positioning to obstruct journalists' views was a clear attempt to control the narrative. Such maneuvers have been a part of a broader strategy to shield the President from potentially unfavorable situations.

President Biden's second White House press conference in January 2022 was notable for several factual inaccuracies, particularly concerning comments on Russia and Ukraine. This event exemplified the risks associated with his unscripted remarks.

Behind the Scenes: Controlling the Narrative

Quotes from a forthcoming book by Katie Rogers reveal the extent of Jill Biden's frustration and proactive role in managing press events. Her dismay at the silence of aides during a challenging moment speaks volumes about the internal dynamics at play.

"Why didn’t anyone stop that?" Jill Biden reportedly lamented, reflecting on an incident where the aides remained silent, illustrating the tension between maintaining a controlled image and allowing natural dialogue.

The White House staff, notably including figures such as then-Press Secretary Jen Psaki and Meghan Hays, have been visibly active in trying to conclude Biden’s interactions with the media, signaling a high level of concern over preserving the President's public image.

Adapting to Press Corps Dynamics

In response to the challenges of managing press access, the White House implemented a prescreening process for reporters. This process, initially adjusted after protests from the press corps in the summer of 2022, was tightened again following the release of Hur's report.

President Biden's verbal gaffes have been a recurring issue, including misidentifying foreign leaders and cities. These errors, such as confusing the Egyptian President with the president of Mexico, underline the reasons behind the White House's cautious approach to his public appearances.

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