After four years with an administration and president that regularly dismissed the norms of their predecessors, perhaps the biggest sign of normalcy coming back to the White House has been the return of regular press briefings, both from the White House and other departments.
Since President Biden’s Inauguration on January 20th, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki has managed to hold a press briefing every day of the business week, marking a sharp contrast to the previous Trump administration, which astonishingly managed to allow 400 days to pass between two of their White House press briefings. Psaki has also managed to bring back a longstanding tradition of waiting for the nod of the attending AP reporter before ending the briefing.
When asked about the courtesy by The Washington Post, Psaki replied, “We have every intention of continuing to look for ways to modernize and be far less traditional, but this tradition sets the right tone of a wire service that is carried in media outlets across the country kicking off the briefing and also signaling when it is time to end.”
Meanwhile, following up on Secretary of State Tony Blinken’s promise to resume normal media relations, the State Department’s Press Secretary Ned Price – the first gay man to hold the position – has also began delivering daily press briefings this Tuesday, reports ABC News. State Department briefings were once a regular thing until fear of contradicting former President Trump’s capricious leadership style left the practice seemingly impossible.
Likewise, Chief Pentagon Press Spokesman, retired Rear Adm. John Kirby, has gone the extra mile, promising an aggressive briefing schedule, “most likely [on] Monday, Wednesday, and Friday,” but also including “an on-the-record but off-camera gaggle” for Tuesdays and Thursdays, according to The Washington Examiner. Kirby also said that he would put an end to strict time limits for those press briefings as well, allowing for more engagement with Pentagon reporters.
“I don’t want to be up there briefing without a chance for everybody to get a shot,” Kirby said. “In the past, there has been a tendency to cut the briefings off after a certain amount of minutes, 30 minutes, whatever it is. But I’m not interested in having a time limit on it.”
The reopening of the press rooms has received applause and excitement from a number of officials from former presidential press offices. In a CNN op-ed, former Clinton Press Secretary Joe Lockhart wrote, “The Biden administration is sending a strong symbol that transparency and accountability, two things lacking in the previous administration, will be central to how the government will work moving forward.”
Lockhart went on to applaud the selection of the press secretaries leading the charge, saying “Jen Psaki at the White House, John Kirby at the Pentagon and Ned Price at State are using decades of experience and credibility built up by being straight with reporters even when the news is not good.” He also added, “Each of President Biden’s picks sends a strong message about how important he sees accountability and transparency in government.”
Its going to be an exciting, active relationship between the Washington press Corps and the Biden administration.