White House Locks Down Joe Biden After Critical Messaging Errors with Reporters

White House press secretary Jen Psaki speaks during a press briefing at the White House, Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

The White House on Monday blocked President Joe Biden from speaking with reporters about a signature administration effort on entitlements.

The Biden administration kicked off a messaging push to promote the child tax credit, but Biden was not scheduled to speak to reporters.

Families will begin receiving monthly payments in their bank accounts of $250 or more per child beginning in July, a massive entitlement program that comes as part of Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus rescue plan.

Biden was not part of the White House’s number one messaging strategy of the day.

His daily schedule for Monday only featured a meeting with financial regulators at 1:45 pm. The event was closed to the press.

Instead, the White House sent Vice President Kamala Harris to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to deliver a speech on the issue.

The White House released a 430-word statement purportedly from Biden on Monday afternoon to promote the program, which read like one of his teleprompter speeches carefully constructed by his press aides.

On Monday morning, White House press secretary Jen Psaki appeared on CBS This Morning to talk about the tax credit.

Press staff also sent messaging promoting the program on social media, using the president’s account to share pre-approved statements.

White House staff sidelining Biden comes after a series of blunders the president made in front of the press.

On Friday, Biden veered off message during an event promoting vaccines by responding to a reporter asking for his reaction to Catholic bishops voting to write a statement clarifying the Church’s position on denying communion to pro-abortion political figures.

“That’s a private matter, and I don’t think that’s going to happen,” Biden replied.

The president also snapped at a CNN reporter after his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, veering off of his list of questioners his press staff prepared for him and imploding his effort to show the world he was able to handle tough questions and negotiations.

Biden later apologized for losing his temper but continued complaining about “negative” reporters as press staffers begged him to get on Air Force One.

“Sir, we need to go. Sir, we really have to go,” the aide said, interrupting the president as he continued to talk to reporters before boarding his plane.

Jen Psaki revealed in May she tells the president not to take questions from reporters, expressing her desire to reduce the amount of access they have to Biden.
“We’re never going to satisfy the White House press corps and their desires for access, and I think there have been mistakes made in the past of trying to do that,” she said in an interview with her former boss David Axelrod.

During the interview, Axelrod acknowledged it was hard to keep Biden on message, but praised Psaki and others in the White House for doing “a good job of managing” him.

Biden frequently expresses concerns he will “get in trouble” with his staff by engaging with reporters, demonstrating he has strict guardrails on his behavior.

Reporters have also noted the heightened controlling effort by aides.

CNN reporter Jeff Zeleny sparked a conversation on social media after he noted on air that Biden struggles to speak to reporters while aides are “screaming at him to stop.”

“I have never seen a President, covering the last four of them, so protected by his aides,” he said.


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