Biden trips up the stairs to Air Force One again before his interview with Jimmy Kimmel.
Hours before President Biden did a late-night comedy interview with ABC host Jimmy Kimmel, he tried his own pratfall by tripping up the steps of Air Force One as he started another day without an interview with a journalist.
Biden started his tense climb up the plane’s stairs after he refused to answer questions from reporters. During the flight to Los Angeles, reporters complained about Biden not being available to the press.
Most people didn’t notice when the president stumbled, in part because TV channels like C-SPAN, which have access to unfiltered pool feeds, didn’t show footage right away.
Even though the president hasn’t done a recorded sit-down interview with a reporter in about four months, Biden was scheduled to talk to Kimmel, a comedian.
Just before he lost, Biden made a statement in response to Tuesday’s primary elections, in which the far-left San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin was removed from office.
He said, “I think the voters spoke loud and clear last night.” “Both parties need to step up and take action to stop crime and gun violence.”
Biden, who is 79, got on the plane and didn’t talk to the press any more. As he left the White House Wednesday morning, he did not stop to talk to reporters either.
People who don’t like the president often say that he is losing his mind. Last month, when he was going to Illinois, he seemed to lose his balance on the steps of Air Force One. In March 2021, Biden fell down the stairs several times. The White House said that what happened was because it was windy at the airport.
Biden will spend the next three days in Los Angeles as the host of the Summit of the Americas. The lead-up to the event has been dominated by Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s announcement that he would not attend because the White House did not invite the leftist authoritarian leaders of Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela.
On Air Force One, a reporter asked Jake Sullivan, the White House’s national security adviser, why Vice President Biden didn’t schedule a press conference while in Los Angeles, like he has done at other international summits.
“I think it would be hard to argue that he hasn’t taken a lot of questions from the press,” Sullivan said, even though Biden has done fewer interviews and press conferences than his predecessors. It also seemed unlikely that he would be pressed too hard by the liberal Kimmel, who used to co-host Comedy Central’s racy “The Man Show.”
Sullivan’s attempts to calm down angry journalists didn’t help much.
Steven Portnoy of CBS News Radio, who is president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, tweeted that Biden decided not to hold a press conference, even though Secretary of State Antony Blinken has been pressuring Latin American countries to do more to support press freedom this week.
Mike Memoli, an NBC reporter who covers the White House, said, “The U.S. is usually the one pushing foreign allies to hold news conferences at summits abroad. Biden doesn’t do one at home because he is hosting a summit.”
The White House press office only let still photographers into a pool spray with the president during the Kimmel taping. This meant that reporters, audio recording equipment, and video cameras were not allowed.
“For the second time this week, the White House won’t let video cameras into a Biden event. Only still cameras will be allowed. Tonight, there will only be stills from the Biden/Kimmel taping for a spray,” Fox News reporter Jacqui Heinrich wrote on Twitter. “Earlier this week, when he met with Sen. Chris Murphy on the South Lawn, only stills were brought. TV was told about it afterward.”
Biden’s handlers angered the White House press corps when, on April 7, they only let still photographers watch Biden and Ketanji Brown Jackson celebrate her confirmation to the Supreme Court. At the time, it was a rare change from how the president was usually covered by the press pool. After the event, Biden’s team put out a heavily edited reel.
The last time Biden sat down with a professional journalist on the record was on February 10 with NBC’s Lester Holt. The interview was taped and played three days later as part of the network’s coverage of the Super Bowl before the game.
Biden recorded two podcasts on February 25. One was about 13 minutes long and was with Democratic activist Brian Cohen. The other was about 30 minutes long and was with Boston College professor Heather Richardson, who leans to the left. Cohen said later, “I’m not a reporter… I have my own plans, and I think this White House is doing a good job of putting some of them into action. Our goals match up.”
Before his first State of the Union address to Congress on March 2, Biden had a traditional lunch with TV anchors that was not on the air. He let the people there write down what he said about the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Thomas Friedman, a columnist for the New York Times, had lunch with Biden on May 16. The lunch was off the record, but Friedman wrote about a week later that the rules said he could only say “what I ate and how I felt afterward.”
On March 18, Biden told CNN reporter Kaitlan Collins in two words that his call with Chinese President Xi Jinping that day “went well” as he passed her in the West Wing.
During his first year in office, the president only gave 28 interviews. Martha Kumar, who is in charge of the White House Transition Project, says that Donald Trump did 95 interviews, Barack Obama did 162, and George W. Bush did 50 interviews during their first year in office.
There is no official place to keep track of presidential interviews. Instead, people like Kumar, former CBS News reporter Mark Knoller, and the website Factba.se keep unofficial records. The numbers can be different because there are different rules about what counts as an interview and different levels of access to local or off-the-record interviews.