Presidential News Conferences

Jump to Data Table

The term "news conference" refers simply to an interaction between the President and multiple members of the press in a relatively formal setting.  The President and the press meet specifically for the President to respond to press questions. In the early years those interactions were only partly "on the record," as specified by the President, and were not broadcast live.  Indeed in several early instances (e.g., Coolidge, Hoover), reporters submitted questions in writing, and the President selected which to answer.

The modern idea of a press conference dates from the Eisenhower Administration.  In those modern conferences, the President responds to un-vetted questions in a public forum, and the event is nationally broadcast.

A different kind of interaction is referred to as an "exchange with reporters."  An exchange with reporters typically happens incidentally alongside some other meeting or event.  This is often while the President is moving from one location to another and pauses to take questions from reporters (e.g. walking to the helicopter).  Alternatively, the President may decide at the end of remarks to respond to questions from reporters.  Early in the Trump Administration, the White House did not prepare transcripts of many of President Trump's "exchanges." 

A "Solo-Reg" news conference refers to the President alone with reporters. A subset of the Solo category is "Prime-Time."  Those have been televised, live, in prime-time (Eastern Time).  In a Joint conference, the President appears together with one or more other speakers.  A typical example of Joint conferences involves a foreign head of government with whom the President has been meeting.

On our Advanced Search page you can find the transcripts of all news conferences in our collection, and select by president or specific time period. ("Document Category" = News Conferences). In several cases, we have fewer transcripts in our archive than exist and have been tabulated by others.

News Conference (or Press Conference) vs Press Briefing.  Press briefings rarely involve the President.  Briefings have usually been frequent--sometimes daily--meetings of the White House Press Corps with the Press Secretary (and/or others).  These provide an opportunity for the White House to convey information and for the press corps to ask questions on virtually any topic of interest.  For a period in the Trump Administration regular press briefings with the Press Secretary were discontinued.  This link will take you to Press Briefings during the Biden Administration. Our collection includes over 6000 press briefings.

ALSO SEETable showing length of time in days from presidents taking office until their first solo news conference.

Main Data Table

President

Year Years
in Office
Solo-Reg Prime-time Joint   Total avg/
month
avg/
year
Calvin Coolidge

Totals

5.59 407 0 0   407 6.07 72.90
  1923-24   92 0 0 92    
  1925   88 0 0 88    
  1926   79 0 0 79    
  1927   80 0 0 80    
  1928-29   68 0 0 68    
Herbert Hoover Totals 4.00 268 0 0   268 5.58 67.00
  1929   78 0 0 78    
  1930   86 0 0 86    
  1931   62 0 0 62    
  1932-33   42 0 0 42    
Franklin D. Roosevelt

Totals

12.12 881 0 0   881 6.05 72.66
  1933   81 0 0 81    
  1934   73 0 0 73    
  1935   59 0 0 59    
  1936   67 0 0 67    
  1937   73 0 0 73    
  1938   86 0 0 86    
  1939   84 0 0 84    
  1940   89 0 0 89    
  1941   78 0 0 78    
  1942   66 0 0 66    
  1943   58 0 0 58    
  1944   54 0 0 54    
  1945   13 0 0 13    
Harry S. Truman Totals 7.78 324 0 0   324 3.48 41.73
  1945   40 0 0 40    
  1946   53 0 0 53    
  1947   38 0 0 38    
  1948   31 0 0 31    
  1949   47 0 0 47    
  1950   39 0 0 39    
  1951   39 0 0 39    
  1952-53   37 0 0 37    
Dwight D. Eisenhower

Totals

8.00 193 0 0   193 2.01 24.13
  1953   23 0 0 23    
  1954   33 0 0 33    
  1955   19 0 0 19    
  1956   24 0 0 24    
  1957   25 0 0 25    
  1958   21 0 0 21    
  1959   31 0 0 31    
  1960-61   17 0 0 17    
John F. Kennedy Totals 2.84 65 0 0   65 1.91 22.89
  1961   19 0 0 19    
  1962   27 0 0 27    
  1963   19 0 0 19    
Lyndon B. Johnson

Totals

5.17 135 0 0   135 2.18 26.16
  1963-64   35 0 0 35    
  1965   17 0 0 17    
  1966   41 0 0 41    
  1967   22 0 0 22    
  1968-69   20 0 0 20    
Richard Nixon Totals 5.55 29 10 0   39 0.59 7.03
  1969   6 2 0 8    
  1970   2 4 0 6    
  1971   6 3 0 9    
  1972   6 1 0 7    
  1973   7 0 0 7    
  1974   2 0 0 2    
Gerald R. Ford

Totals

2.45 36 3 1   40 1.36 16.32
  1974   4 1 1 6    
  1975   18 1 0 19    
  1976-77   14 1 0 15    
Jimmy Carter Totals 4.00 52 7 0   59 1.23 14.75
  1977   22 0 0 22    
  1978   18 1 0 19    
  1979   10 2 0 12    
  1980-81   2 4 0 6    
Ronald Reagan

Totals

8.00 15 31 0   46 0.48 5.75
  1981   6 0 0 6    
  1982   3 5 0 8    
  1983   0 7 0 7    
  1984   0 5 0 5    
  1985   1 5 0 6    
  1986   2 5 0 7    
  1987   1 2 0 3    
  1988-89   2 2 0 4    
George Bush Totals 4.00 89 2 46   137 2.85 34.25
  1989   27 1 3 31    
  1990   29 0 7 36    
  1991   21 0 21 42    
  1992-93   12 1 15 28    
William J. Clinton

Totals

8.00 59 3 131   193 2.01 24.13
  1993   11 1 26 38    
  1994   16 1 28 45    
  1995   8 1 19 28    
  1996   6 0 16 22    
  1997   7 0 14 21    
  1998   2 0 11 13    
  1999   6 0 12 18    
  2000-01   3 0 5 8    
George W. Bush Totals 8.00 49 4 157   210 2.18 26.25
  2001   4 1 14 19    
  2002   3 0 17 20    
  2003   3 1 22 26    
  2004   5 1 18 24    
  2005   8 1 24 33    
  2006   11 0 19 30    
  2007   10 0 20 30    
  2008-09   5 0 23 28    
Barack Obama

Totals

8.00 65 4 95   164 1.71 20.50
  2009   7 4 16 27    
  2010   10 0 9 19    
  2011   8 0 12 20    
  2012   6 0 6 12    
  2013   8 0 14   22    
  2014   7 0 15   22    
  2015   9 0 11   20    
  2016-17   10 0 12   22    
Donald J. Trump

Totals

4.00 44 0 44   88 1.83 22.00
  2017   1 0 20   21    
  2018   5 0 13   18    
  2019   3 0 10   13    
  2020-21   35 0 1   36    
Joseph R. Biden Totals 0.25 1 0 1   2 0.67 8.00
  2021   1 0 1   2    

Average News Conferences per Year

Average "Solo" News Conferences per Year

Average "Joint" News Conferences per Year

 


Last Updated

April 20, 2021

Source(s)

• Coolidge data from Lyn Ragsdale, Vital Statistics on the Presidency (Washington, D.C.: Congressional Quarterly Press, 1998), 170-71.
• Roosevelt - present data compiled by Gerhard Peters, The American Presidency Project.

Also see:  Martha Joynt Kumar, Managing the President's Message:  The White House Communications Operaition (Baltimore:  Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007)

Citations

Gerhard Peters. "Presidential News Conferences." The American Presidency Project. Ed. John T. Woolley and Gerhard Peters. Santa Barbara, CA: University of California.  https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/323900