President Biden will give a solo White House press conference, only the second of his presidency, Wednesday afternoon, the Independent reported.
The format of the press conference will allow reporters to ask probing follow-up questions and engage in substantive exchanges with the president.
Biden, whose approval rating stands at 40 percent, has been much more wary of in-depth engagement with media than his immediate predecessors. Political scientist Martha Kumar, who leads the White House Transition Project, calculated that Biden has given only nine press conferences so far, the New York Post reported. During the same time period, former President Donald Trump gave 22 and former President Barack Obama gave 27.
This conference comes as Biden approaches the end of his first year in office, a year defined largely by setbacks.
As CNN lays out, Biden will likely face questions on COVID-19 restrictions tightening despite his vaccine push, the highest inflation rate in 40 years, the "unprecedented" number of crossings at the southern border, the chaotic Afghanistan withdrawal, and tension with Russia. Additionally, he will face scrutiny for the number of legislative priorities that have failed to pass the evenly divided Senate.
The Build Back Better bill died last month after Biden was unable to come to an agreement with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.). Just hours after Biden's press conference, a vote to change Senate rules to force a vote on the president's voting rights agenda is also expected to fail.
According to Punchbowl News, "[t]he White House feels as if they've undersold [Biden's] accomplishments." It remains to be seen whether Biden can convince reporters of that Wednesday afternoon.
Political pundits like right-wing commentator Ben Shapiro exemplified the sentiment that reportedly has White House aides hoping the press conference serves as a "reset" moment.
Except for William Henry Harrison and James Garfield, both of whom were dead at this point in their terms, Joe Biden has had the worst first year of any president in American history. Entirely self-inflicted.
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) January 19, 2022