It has been 441 days since Donald Trump was inaugurated. Less than one month later he held his first news conference. And despite innumerable scandals, outrages, embarrassments, and crimes, he hasn’t held another one since. That’s right, the President of the United States has only had one solo news conference during his entire term in office to date. What’s more, he hasn’t sat for an interview with a major news network other than Fox News for more than a year.
For most that time, Trump has been a vocal opponent of the free press and the First Amendment. He has called the media “the enemy of the American people.” He banned certain news organizations from his rallies. He proposed licensing of journalists and/or revoking licenses of broadcasters he regarded as too critical. The Committee to Protect Journalists declared that Trump is “undermining global press freedom.” And his relentless (and tedious) repetition of “fake news” whenever someone in the press tells the truth about him has become the hallmark of his presidency.
For all his tough talk it is apparent that Donald Trump is a coward. He is a whining baby whose impotent rants only illustrate how scared he is of the media he tries to bully. And now he has informed the White House Correspondents Association that he will not be attending their annual dinner for the second year in a row. And why should he? He has called the other attendees sleazy, dishonest, corrupt, and horrible people. So he’s sending his press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, to fill in for him as the designated liar for the administration. She should be a suitable substitute for the Liar-in-Chief. It’s just like her day job.
Trump’s failure to hold a news conference breaks decades old practices of presidents answering to the American people through their media surrogates. His single appearance contrasts with the far more accessible policies of his predecessors. Barack Obama, in his first year in office, held seven news conferences. George W. Bush did four. Bill Clinton did eleven. George H. W. Bush did twenty-seven. Ronald Reagan did six. Jimmy Carter did twenty-two. Gerald Ford did four. And Richard Nixon did six.
And it’s not as if Trump doesn’t recognize the importance of news conferences. During the campaign he criticized Hillary Clinton for what he regarded as a wholly improper avoidance of the media:
Crooked Hillary Clinton has not held a news conference in more than 7 months. Her record is so bad she is unable to answer tough questions!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 6, 2016
If Clinton’s alleged media shyness for seven months was an indication that she had a terrible record that could not be defended, then what does that say about Trump’s fourteen months of cowering in the safety of the White House and his private resorts? It is unmistakable that his outbursts are the result of an inner terror of being held accountable. In the past year there have been dozens of incidents that the American people want and deserve to hear the President explain. From Russia to porn stars to racism to economic crises, this president refuses to answer questions in a setting where reporters can challenge his authoritarian tactics.
In case you missed it, here is Trump’s one and only press conference: