- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 21, 2022

Reporters slammed the White House Thursday for not making President Biden’s doctor available to answer media questions about his positive COVID-19 test, with one journalist saying the president’s staff were exhibiting “the least transparency” of any White House in 50 years.

The White House early Thursday hastily convened a press briefing after it announced that Mr. Biden tested positive for COVID-19 and would isolate himself to recover from what they say are mild symptoms.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and Ashish Jha, who is the administration’s coronavirus response coordinator, attended the briefing. But notably absent was White House physician Kevin O’Connor, who examined Mr. Biden.

Reporters repeatedly grilled Ms. Jean-Pierre on why Dr. O’Connor was not at the briefing. The doctor’s only public statement so far was through a letter released by the White House saying that Mr. Biden is experiencing a runny nose, dry cough, and fatigue.

“Neither of you has seen the president today,” one reporter said during the briefing. “Neither of you is treating the president. The question is when will Dr. O’Connor come out, because to just put out a statement and shield him from questions would be the least transparency of any White House in 50 years on a presidential illness.”

Another reporter slammed the second-hand reports from Ms. Jean-Pierre and Dr. Jha as “telephone tag,” asking why the public hasn’t heard directly from the president’s doctor.

As Dr. Jha struggled to answer a question about the timing of Mr. Biden’s symptoms, a third reporter responded, “that would be one of the reasons for his physician [to be] up here answering questions.”

Ms. Jean-Pierre pushed back, insisting that the Biden White House was more transparent than the Trump administration, when former President Trump tested positive for COVID-19 in October 2020.

“We are doing this very differently. Very differently, I would argue, than the last administration, and I’m happy to have that conversation with you,” she said.

“We believe getting direct information — pretty much detailed information from this letter — that we, in a transparent way, are sharing with all of you,” Ms. Jean-Pierre said. “We are committed to doing that every day.”

When Mr. Trump tested positive two years ago, then-White House physician Sean Conley addressed reporters during a press conference at Walter Reed Hospital. However, the information provided at the briefing raised more questions as he sidestepped several questions about Mr. Trump’s health. 

For more information, visit The Washington Times COVID-19 resource page.

• Jeff Mordock can be reached at jmordock@washingtontimes.com.

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