Psaki snaps at reporter asking why Biden isn’t holding a press conference


Jen Psaki snaps at reporter asking why Biden isn’t holding a press conference after ‘three amigos summit’ and says you ‘don’t need an embroidered chair’ to ask questions

  • Jen Psaki snapped at a reporter after being asked if the press should expect a press conference following President Joe Biden’s ‘three amigos’ summit 
  • ‘You can ask questions in any format, right? I don’t think you need a formal embroidered chair for it,’ Psaki told CBS News Radio’s Steven Portnoy 
  • Portnoy had pointed out that Biden had told reporters at a bill signing Thursday morning, ‘I’ll be happy to answer questions after I meet with all the leaders’ 
  • However, the White House bucked tradition and didn’t schedule a tri-lateral press conference with Biden and the leaders of Canada and Mexico  










White House press secretary Jen Psaki snapped at a reporter at Thursday’s briefing after being asked if the press should expect a press conference following President Joe Biden’s ‘three amigos’ summit. 

‘You can ask questions in any format, right? I don’t think you need a formal embroidered chair for it,’ Psaki told CBS News Radio correspondent Steven Portnoy, who serves as the president of the White House Correspodents’ Association, the group that pushes for White House access for journalists. 

Portnoy had pointed out that Biden had told reporters at a bill signing Thursday morning, ‘I’ll be happy to answer questions after I meet with all the leaders.’  

White House press secretary Jen Psaki snapped at a reporter at Thursday's briefing after being asked if the press should expect a press conference following President Joe Biden's 'three amigos' summit

White House press secretary Jen Psaki snapped at a reporter at Thursday’s briefing after being asked if the press should expect a press conference following President Joe Biden’s ‘three amigos’ summit 

However, the White House bucked tradition and didn’t schedule a tri-lateral press conference with Biden, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador following their late afternoon meeting.

Both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama held press conferences when they got together with their Canadian and Mexican counterparts.  

CBS News Radio correspondent Steven Portnoy asked Psaki about a press conference at the Thursday briefing. He serves as White House Correspondents' Association president

CBS News Radio correspondent Steven Portnoy asked Psaki about a press conference at the Thursday briefing. He serves as White House Correspondents’ Association president 

Instead, reporters could yell questions during what are called ‘pool sprays,’ when a smaller group of journalists comes in for a portion of a meeting. 

Leaders can choose to ignore the press or engage.  

Earlier in the briefing, Psaki told reporters that the lack of press conference wasn’t ‘as scandalous as that in terms of backstory.’  

She said there was a ‘change of schedule,’ as Biden signed three first responder-related bills Thursday morning, which prevented a tri-lateral press conference from being booked after the scheduled 4:45 p.m. meeting with both López Obrador and Trudeau. 

Biden also has a tendency to run late, so that meeting hadn’t started as 5 p.m. approached. 

In his capacity as WHCA president, Portnoy told Psaki: ‘We would like a press conference,’ in response to her ’embroidered chair’ comment. 

Psaki was interviewed Wednesday for a Politico Women Rule event where she said that Biden’s lack of press conferences was more of a problem for the media than the American people. 

‘I think that’s more of an issue related to the White House press corps … and D.C. press, than it is of concern to the American public,’ she said. 

Psaki pushed back on the idea that Biden was in any way press shy.  

Biden has eschewed formal press conferences for more casual Q&A with reporters when he travels or during events. 

President Joe Biden (right) meets with Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (left) in the Oval Office Thursday afternoon

President Joe Biden (right) meets with Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (left) in the Oval Office Thursday afternoon 

President Joe Biden (right) and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (left) of Canada during a bilateral meeting in the Oval Office

President Joe Biden (right) and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (left) of Canada during a bilateral meeting in the Oval Office

When he does hold a press conference, he’s made it standard practice to call on a pre-set list of reporters.   

‘I would say that it’s the job of every journalist to push for more access. That’s their job. And if we granted access every time a journalist asked for an interview or access we probably wouldn’t necessarily be doing our jobs,’ Psaki said. 

She argued that the debate over press conferences is ‘misunderstood’ because ‘it’s really about how any president uses their time or how they engage with the media.’ 

‘But it’s just not accurate to suggest that he isn’t accessible or doesn’t answer questions,’ she added. 

She argued that Biden, at a standard press conference, might only answer 10 to 15 questions, while he answers ’20, 30 questions a week,’ in the more casual encounters. 

‘President Biden has answered questions twice as many times at these events than President Trump did at this point at time,’ Psaki also argued.     

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