The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author alone and do not necessarily represent the position of ZU Media or APU
Regardless of what one thought of President Trump, he brought a new form of transparency to the Oval Office that seems to have since disappeared.
The transparency of the presidency is something that America has wrestled with since its creation. This problem presents itself as an age-old debate between knowledge as power and ignorance as bliss.
Americans want to be able to hold their president accountable, but they have never really wanted to know what it costs to get things done. Nevertheless, transparency has tended to be one of the highest priorities in this democracy—until President Biden.
First, however, this issue came to a head under President Donald Trump, when the cries of media suppression began.
This was obviously a ploy of the administration as Trump is famous for calling the media “the enemy of the people,” something that upset many on the opposing side of the aisle while it pleased his base.
Under the Trump administration around a dozen journalists lost their White House press pass after not meeting specific requirements in 2019. Previously, in 2018, the White House infamously revoked the press credentials of CNN reporter Jim Acosta, who did not receive the pass again until he went to court for it.
Eventually, a few months before the end of his administration, the president ended his daily coronavirus briefings, much to the outrage of the mainstream media.
Of course, during his entire presidency there was article after article claiming that the president was not a supporter of the first amendment’s protection of freedom of the press, such as this one from the ACLU entitled, “Donald Trump thinks freedom of the press is ‘disgusting.’”
America has depended upon journalism to hold the president accountable throughout history including: President Nixon’s Watergate scandal, the publishing of the Pentagon Papers and Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle. It is important that Americans have people willing to hold the highest levels of government accountable.
Journalists, unfortunately, do not seem to be as concerned with holding this administration to the same standard. After waiting the whole month of February for the announcement, President Joe Biden has yet to set a date for his first speech as president to a joint session of Congress.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has claimed that the president will not give the address until Congress passes a COVID-19 relief package. Of course, passing present legislation through Congress has never before been a requirement for the president to address the nation.
This comes on the heels of White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki claiming that there is no specified date for the President to hold his own press conference in the briefing room. The reporter who asked the question pointed out that at this time in the administration both former presidents Obama and Trump had held conferences of their own.
In the few speeches and addresses the president has given, he has had a few stumbles of his own. First, there was the speech, he gave while campaigning in which he said a word that was nearly incomprehensible that some have spelled “Trunalimunumaprzure.”
Just recently, in this middle of a speech he was giving while visiting Houston, TX after the storm, the president interrupted himself to ask “What am I doing here?”
These are worthy to note because the president has not had many public appearances, and when he has they have not been extremely engaged with the press.
Since taking office, President Biden has signed a record number of executive orders and hasn’t provided the promised $2000 stimulus checks. He has, however, managed to find time to provide aid for overseas abortions. Yet, this action has received little questioning from the press.
The president hardly even received questioning about his ending of the Keystone Pipeline project which killed nearly 1000 jobs.
The point here is not to criticize the Biden administration’s policy positions, although they are hardly uncontroversial and highly deserving of questions, but to point out that the president is missing.
President Trump, for better or worse, was always talking to the nation. Within minutes of a thought crossing his mind he was either tweeting, attacking the press from the podium or on Fox News. If he had a thought, was changing directions or was worried about something the American people knew about it.
Donald Trump, arguably to his own downfall, was unprecedentedly transparent with the American people. They knew his goals, thoughts, ambitions and policy positions. Every time he was on the tarmac or coming off Air Force One his first stop was to answer a few questions from the press gaggle. This is something that, under normal circumstances, would have been touted and praised by the American media.
There was always a story to write, news to break or speech to critique with President Trump, because America saw all of his cards.
Now, after his first full month in office, President Biden has not addressed the nation in a joint session of Congress or the press room. Where are the cries for transparency and honesty from the media? Why is no one concerned with the fact that the American people have hardly seen their new president?
Journalists should be calling on the president to address the nation. They should hold the same regard towards the office no matter who occupies it. The Washington Post says it best: “Democracy dies in darkness.” The light is dimming, and where is the president?