Despite his professed disdain for reporters, President Trump is on pace to hold news conferences with much greater frequency than any president since Franklin D. Roosevelt.
It’s early in Trump’s presidency, to be sure, and the pattern could change. But Trump already has held five news conferences since his inauguration Jan. 20, according to Gerhard Peters, co-director of The American Presidency Project, which tracks such data.
That’s a higher rate of news conferences than any presidency since Roosevelt, who averaged about six news conferences per month, according to the project’s data.
Yet, “keep in mind that ‘news conferences’ today are not like what they were in the [Woodrow] Wilson to FDR era,” Peters said in an e-mail. “Then, they were more informal gatherings of reporters around the president’s desk.”
Barack Obama averaged fewer than two news conferences per month. George W. Bush and Bill Clinton averaged a little over two per month during each of their presidencies, while George H.W. Bush averaged just under three per month.
In fact, every president since Roosevelt has averaged 3.5 per month (Harry Truman) or fewer.
Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan were noticeably stingy when it came to hosting press conferences, with each averaging roughly one every two months during their runs as president.
Trump’s frequency of news conferences isn’t merely a product of it being early in his tenure.
His five so far are already the most in an elected president’s first month on the job dating back to at least Roosevelt, according to Peters.
Peters said he reviewed records for the first month of every president from Eisenhower through Obama. (Peters said he excluded Gerald Ford, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Truman from the analysis, because they were not elected but instead took over the Oval Office due to death or resignation. And Peters said he did not have complete data for Roosevelt.)
The next-highest first-month total was four news conferences held by John F. Kennedy, followed by Clinton (3), Obama, the elder Bush, and Nixon (2); the rest all held one news conference during their first month.
Peters noted that George W. Bush didn’t hold his first news conference as president until this date, Feb. 16, 2001.
Trump still has a few days to go before the book closes on his first month.
Trump’s use of news conferences does not appear to be accidental.
As he said in his most recent news conference on Thursday, he believes that these interactions with the press on the campaign trail helped him win the election.
“Don’t forget, that’s the way I won. Remember, I used to give you a news conference every time I made a speech, which was like every day. OK?,” Trump said, according to a transcript of Thursday’s news conference.
“That’s how I won,” he added. “I won with news conferences and probably speeches. I certainly didn’t win by people listening to you people. That’s for sure.”
Trump also said Thursday that, despite having to field what he described as sometimes “unfair” and “insulting” questions from “dishonest” media members, he enjoys hosting press conferences, or at least was enjoying Thursday’s.
“I love this,” said Trump. “I’m having a good time doing it.”
|Donald Trump (since Jan. 20)||5|
|Barack Obama (2009-2017)||2|
|George W. Bush (2001-2009)||1|
|Bill Clinton (1993-2001)||3|
|George H.W. Bush (1989-1993)||2|
|Ronald Reagan (1981- 1989)||1|
|Jimmy Carter (1977-1981)||1|
|Richard Nixon (1969-1974)||2|
|John F. Kennedy (1961-1963)||4|
|Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953-1961)||1|