Speed Reads

Beat the Press

Obama held 11 press conferences in his 1st year. Trump has held 1.

President Trump communicates with the public all the time, mostly over Twitter but also in the occasional TV interview, answer to shouted question from his press pool, or response to a question from a typically friendly news outlet at a joint news conference. But he hasn't held a solo press conference in more than a year, The Associated Press notes, which is "a dramatic departure from historic precedent, according to records kept by The American Presidency Project and dating back to Calvin Coolidge. In their first years alone, President Barack Obama held 11 solo news conferences, George W. Bush held five, and Bill Clinton a dozen. Trump held just one."

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders insists Trump "is more accessible than most modern presidents and frequently takes questions from the press," and former Press Secretary Ari Fleischer tells AP that "the public gets its accountability through other tactics beyond formal long-winded news conferences." But, AP notes, in the interactions Trump does have with the press, he "can easily ignore questions he doesn't like and dodge follow-ups in a way that would be glaring in a traditional news conference." And Trump would appear to agree with that assessment:

Trump seemed to actually enjoy his only presidential press conference, AP says. On Late Night in February, New York Times reporters Maggie Haberman, one of the journalists who knows Trump best, told Seth Meyers she thinks Trump would hate it most of all if the press simply stopped writing about him. "Even as president I still think he has that fear," she said. "I had an ex-aide say to me at one point that he can't go more than a few days without seeing his name in the news." Peter Weber