President Biden’s administration continued to show its difficult relationship with the press on Monday.
Biden took calls from governors to discuss ongoing efforts to combat rising COVID-19 cases due to the new omicron variant. After speaking with the governors, Biden addressed White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Jeffrey Zients as to whether the governors had questions.
“I want to thank the governors for their partnership and I mean that sincerely. With that I will turn it back over to Jeff and I understand you guys might have some questions. Jeff?” Biden asked.
Zients then responded “Good. I think we are going to clear the press first,” ushering the press pool out of the room.
Biden has frequently faced criticism for his response to the press. In several instances when he has not avoided reporter questions, he has implied that handlers determine when and who to call on during press events.
Zients’ instruction to clear the press adds to the long line of officials who have appeared to limit Biden’s exposure to the media.
Biden was later confronted by the press before leaving the White House on the claim that his administration rejected a plan by experts to boost holiday COVID testing rates. He responded “We didn’t reject it” in defiance of comments made during the governor conference.
“It is not enough. It’s clearly not enough. If I had – we – had known, we would have gone harder, quicker, if we could have,” Biden said previously.
During the conference with the governors, Biden spoke with a few GOP politicians who cautioned him against using federal solutions for state problems. Biden then agreed that there is “no federal solution” to the pandemic.
“There is no federal solution. This gets solved at the state level,” Biden responded.