As of Sunday, Donald Trump has gone 150 days — and counting — without holding a formal presidential news conference.
With 2017 past the halfway point, Trump would need to hold a press conference more than once a month to equal the 7 press conferences President Barack Obama had in his first year in office. Even George W. Bush’s anemic 4 press conferences in 2001 are ahead of Trump at this point, and he is far behind the 11 press conferences President Bill Clinton held in 1993.
Since 1969, no president has held as few press conferences in his first year as Trump has held thus far.
And he hit this dismal milestone as the first six months of his presidency have been marked by multiple scandals, setbacks, and international embarrassments — not to mention his historically low approval ratings.
Trump’s last, and only, presidential news conference came on February 16, days after Trump fired National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Notably, at that event, while fielding several questions about Flynn, Trump proclaimed that “Russia is fake news.”
Since then, multiple details have emerged to show that the Trump team — including Mike Pence — had advance knowledge of Flynn’s foreign contacts, and was warned about putting him in the position of National Security Adviser, where he had access to classified information.
And while Trump was able to put Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court — in the seat Republicans stole from President Barack Obama and his nominee, Merrick Garland — his legislative accomplishments have been practically nil.
The health care repeal legislation he has backed along with House Speaker Paul Ryan and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is one of the most unpopular proposals in history, and would strip over 22 million Americans of their health insurance. Americans have risen up in organic, local resistance to the legislation, which would devastate millions with its draconian cuts to vital programs like Medicaid.
And Trump’s strategy of embracing cronyism by putting his children and other relatives in positions of power and influence continues to spiral out of control, prompting talk of criminal charges.
Trump’s blatant avoidance of the press is surely a reaction to this poor performance, and continued questions about the competency and viability of his presidency. Perhaps he thinks that speaking only with propaganda outlets like Fox News and Pat Robertson’s 700 Club will keep him afloat.
But his approval numbers continue to lag far behind previous presidents, most notably his immediate predecessor, President Obama — no matter how Trump himself tries to spin the data.
Trump appears to be spending his time in the presidency tweeting, watching Fox News, and promoting his properties at taxpayer expense. He has gone AWOL from his duties, and from accountability.