White House plans nationwide COVID address
By Matt Collins Article may include affiliate links
The White House announced the speech earlier in the day March 11, along with notifying networks of the nationwide address slated for 8 p.m. eastern.
It is expected to be carried live across all time zones by ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox, MSNBC and other networks, streaming providers and more.
The White House advised that the speech will run approximately 20 minutes, though networks may add additional coverage, commentary and analysis before and after it. Typically nationally televised presidential addresses start shortly after the designated time to allow networks to cut into programming and provide a brief introduction before cutting to the feed of the president.
The speech comes almost exactly one year after the U.S. shutdown amid the growing coronavirus crisis that started and multiplied under Donald Trump’s watch in early 2020.
The speech also follows the Biden administration’s significant legislative victory of passing a $1.9 trillion COVID relief package Wednesday, March 10, 2021. Biden is expected to sign the bill in the afternoon of March 11, before the speech airs.
Biden has come under fire for not holding a solo press conference yet despite multiple national issues facing his administration as it hits the midway point of its first 100 days.
That means that Biden has exceeded the previous record of 33 days in office before holding a major, open standalone press event. President George W. Bush held the record previously and Biden’s stretch is longer than any of his 15 predecessors over the past 100 years.
It is worth noting that the Biden administration has restored the practice of near daily briefings with a member of the president’s communications team since taking office. These have also included COVID-specific briefings.
Under Trump, the longstanding practice of daily press briefings with the White House Press Corps began disappearing in the summer of 2018 when then press secretary Sarah Sanders held just 13 briefings from June to August 2018, totaling four hours, according to an NBC News analysis of public records.
She would hold another briefing in October 2018, but then broke the administration’s previous record for no briefings in January 2019.
In April of that year, a member of the corps noticed the briefing room’s lectern was literally gathering dust.
Briefings, when held, were often heated and contained what many viewed as misleading and untruthful statements by Sanders and her predecessor, Kayleigh McEnany.
The administration began holding regularly briefing events after the onset of the pandemic — though they were largely focused on the crisis and included members of the health and medical response team.
Early on Trump would appear with the team, which included medical doctors and scientists, and would often make brash remarks such as suggesting injecting bleach into the body and the unproven remedy hydroxychloroquine to combat the virus.
He later stopped appearing regularly at the briefings, instead choosing only to appear at select press events.
Biden is still speaking with the media, but only in tightly controlled events that don’t allow for the typically back and forth of a traditional briefing.
Trump’s team also made him available for similar events even as briefings were furloughed.