White House scrambles to correct record after Biden confused solo MSNBC interview with a 'major press conference'

May 6, 2023
Ben Marquis

President Joe Biden let slip a massive gaffe on Friday that directly underscores what is arguably the biggest gripe put forward by the White House press corps -- the relatively limited access reporters have had to the highest elected official in the nation.

Biden told inquisitive reporters Friday afternoon that he would be holding a "major press conference" later that day, though there was nothing of the sort on the public schedule, the Daily Caller reported.

White House staffers were forced to scramble in response to Biden's false claim and correct the record to reflect that the president meant to say that he was doing an exclusive sit-down interview with a cable news anchor.

Biden surprises with the announcement of unscheduled "major press conference"

On Friday afternoon, President Biden delivered remarks ahead of a meeting with Cabinet members on his economic policies and then surprised everybody at the end, including his own White House communications team, by telling reporters that he would take their questions later that day in a "major press conference."

"And so, you know, I think -- we’ve got a lot of work to do," Biden said to conclude his remarks. "I’m -- and I’m doing a major press conference this afternoon. So I love you all, but I’d like to ask you to leave so we can get down to business."

A handful of questions were shouted amid the sounds of White House staffers working to hustle the press pool out of the Roosevelt Room, and Biden said in response to a couple of those queries, "I’ll be happy to talk to you about that, but not now," followed by "We’ll get a chance to talk about all those things, I promise you."

"This is news to us"

The RNC Research Twitter account posted a video clip of the confusing moment as aired by CNN in which anchor John King admitted that "This is news to us" in response to the president's claim about an upcoming press conference.

Then, not even an hour later, CNN reported that it had been informed by the White House that there would not be a press conference later that day and that the president had instead been "referring to a previously announced interview," which was a one-on-one taped conversation with MSNBC host Stephanie Ruhle that would air on her 10 pm ET program that evening.

Confusing a friendly solo interview with a "major press conference"

"President Biden says he will be doing a major press conference this afternoon.' There is no press conference scheduled -- although Biden is set to interview with MSNBC tonight. Working to figure out what that's all about ..." Fox News correspondent Jacqui Heinrich, who is also a board member of the White House Correspondents Association, tweeted. She later added, "Update: the President's schedule has not changed. Narrator: 'There would not be, in fact, a major press conference ...'"

Following the revelation that Biden had been referencing an MSNBC interview instead of an actual news conference, Washington Free Beacon reporter Chuck Ross quipped, "So Biden thinks an interview with a friendly cable network that employs many of his former staffers is the same as a major press conference."

Later, former Trump White House press secretary Sean Spicer wrote in a tweet, "President Biden told the press corps today he would be holding a 'major' press conference later in the day ... turns out his idea of a press conference is a taped softball interview on MSNBC with left-wing propagandist Stephanie Ruhle."

Biden has held very few actual press conferences

The Daily Caller noted that President Biden's last "major press conference" was held in November 2022 after the midterm elections, in which he only took a handful of questions from pre-selected reporters. Before that, the last "major" such event was in January 2022 to mark the one-year anniversary of his administration.

To be sure, Biden will take a few questions here and there following an event or while coming and going from the White House, as his communications team is quick to highlight, but that isn't even close to the same thing, and the New York Post reported in November that, per a political scientist and historian, the current president was lagging far behind nearly all of his modern predecessors in terms of press conferences of any sort, whether major or minor, though he did lead all others with regard to the very brief Q&A sessions in passing.

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