President Eisenhower once began a news conference by saying: “I will mount the usual weekly cross and let you drive the nails.” He was probably only half-joking. Most presidents don't like news conferences, and it isn’t hard to understand why.
Presidents are often uncomfortable being unscripted,and modern presidents in particular are painfully aware that every minor mistake will be blogged, tweeted and breathlessly repeated. That’s why recent presidents have given far fewer news conferences than their predecessors.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt averaged nearly seven news conferences a month. But over the last two decades, presidents have averaged only about two a month.
This isn’t good for our democracy. News conferences offer a rare opportunity for the media and the American people to break through the spin, speeches and press releases to force presidents to answer tough questions about pressing issues and to be accountable to the voters who put them in office.
Our solution is simple: presidents should commit to holding at least one news conference per month. In addition, presidential candidates should hold bi-monthly news conferences. Recent presidents have averaged two news conferences a month, but they don’t come at regular intervals, and they too often come only on the White House’s terms. We want a regular news conference on the agenda— not just when it serves the president’s agenda.