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Biden White House is enforcing message restraint and refusing to hold a press conference.

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Biden White House is enforcing message restraint and refusing to hold a press conference.

 

There will be no press conference. There is no address for the Oval Office. There will be no prime-time address to a joint session of Congress.

President Joe Biden is the first president in four decades not to hold a formal question-and-answer session at this stage in his tenure. It represents a White House media strategy aimed at saving major media set-pieces for the celebration of a legislative victory while also limiting unforced errors by a politician who has a history of making gaffes.

Biden has chosen to take questions more often than any of his recent predecessors, but he typically only answers one or two informal questions at a time, usually at the conclusion of a case.

The White House is exercising extreme message control, allowing workers to talk while doing so with care, in stark contrast to the previous administration. The new White House team has strategically handled the president’s appearances, seeking to lower the temperature from Donald Trump’s Washington and save a major media moment to mark what might soon be a signature accomplishment: passage of the COVID-19 bill, evoking both Biden’s relatively leak-free initiative and the buttoned-up Obama administration.

The president’s messaging control can serve his purposes, but it prevents the media the opportunity to question Biden directly on major policy issues and participate in the kind of back-and-forth that can elicit facts and thoughts that go beyond the administration’s curated talking points.

“I believe the president has missed an opportunity to address the nation from the bully pulpit. The intensity in the Biden White House has been turned down to the point that they have to wonder if someone is listening,” said Frank Sesno, former dean of George Washington University’s school of media. “However, he isn’t very good at press conferences. He rambles on and on. His most effective contact is not spontaneous.”

During their first days in office, other modern presidents took more questions.

According to a report by Martha Kumar, presidential scholar and professor emeritus at Towson University, by this point in their terms, Trump and George H.W. Bush had each held five press conferences, Bill Clinton four, George W. Bush three, Barack Obama two, and Ronald Reagan one.

Biden has given five interviews, compared to Reagan’s nine and Obama’s 23.

“Biden came in with a strategy about how they wanted to communicate. As compared to Trump, Biden has a better understanding of how to use a team and that a president cannot do it himself,” Kumar said. “Biden has a press secretary who briefs him on a daily basis. He understands that when you have something to say, particularly a win, you hold a press conference. They understand how important it is to use this period early in the administration because people are paying attention.”

According to Kumar’s study, the new president took questions 39 times, but most of the time it was just one or two shouted questions from a group of reporters known as the press pool at the end of an event in the White House’s State Dining Room or Oval Office.

Such conversations can be clumsy at times, with the cacophony of shouts or the whir of the presidential helicopter’s blades idling on the South Lawn making it impossible to have a coherent conversation.

The president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, Associated Press reporter Zeke Miller, said, “Press conferences are vital to educating the American people and making an administration accountable to the media.” “As with previous presidents, the WHCA continues to urge President Biden to hold frequent formal press conferences.”

Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, defended the president’s media accessibility on Friday, predicting a news conference by the end of March.

Psaki said, “I would suggest that his attention is on bringing healing and relief to the American people, and he looks forward to continuing to communicate with all of you and other members of the media who aren’t here today.” “And we’ll be sure to inform you as soon as the press conference is scheduled.”

According to aides, the president’s first address to a joint session of Congress — which isn’t technically a State of the Union address but usually has just as much pomp — is also tentatively scheduled for the end of March. However, owing to the pandemic, the format of the address is unknown.

The president was praised for two large scripted addresses: his inaugural address and the speech commemorating COVID-19’s 500,000th death.

Biden, who overcame a childhood stutter, has long enjoyed interacting with reporters and has resisted calls from aides to ignore press questions. Biden, who is known for his long speeches, has been susceptible to gaffes throughout his long political career and has struggled with off-the-cuff remarks as president.

His use of the term “Neanderthal thought” to describe the governors of Texas and Mississippi’s decision to repeal mask mandates dominated a new cycle and attracted ire from Republicans. That provided the sort of diversion his aides had hoped to prevent, and which, in a pandemic silver lining, they were mostly able to avoid during the campaign because the virus kept Biden at home for months, limiting the potential for public gaffes.

Biden has rebuked his predecessor’s incendiary rhetoric against the media, including Trump’s references to reporters as “the enemy of the people,” by stating unequivocally that he believes in press freedom. Biden reinstated the daily press briefing, which had been abolished under Trump and provided a glimpse into the White House’s inner workings. His team has also been promoting the COVID-19 relief bill on cable television.

Although Biden’s own Twitter account, in contrast to Trump’s, often posts rote tweets, his chief of staff, Ron Klain, has become a regular tweeter, using the site to amplify messages and criticize opponents.

By postponing the news conference and joint speech, Biden has kept the first chapter of his presidency open and possibly prolonged his honeymoon. In a poll released Friday by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, he received a 60 percent approval rating.

Tobe Berkovitz, a communications professor at Boston University, said Biden’s “rope-a-dope” approach was appropriate at the time.

“For Americans concerned about COVID and the economic crisis that has befallen so many people, presidential press conferences are not on the top of their agenda,” he said.

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DeVante Parker’s return can add another dimension to Dolphins’ offense

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DeVante Parker’s return can add another dimension to Dolphins’ offense

Before Sunday’s 20-9 victory over the New York Giants, Miami Dolphins wide receiver DeVante Parker had only played in one game over the previous two months with hamstring and shoulder issues.

He was away for a key stretch during Miami’s seven-game losing streak that included losses to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Jacksonville Jaguars and Atlanta Falcons, and then he missed the first four of the Dolphins’ five-game winning streak going into the bye week.

Now, after quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and the offense found somewhat of a groove without him, his reinsertion into the lineup can bring an added dimension to the Dolphins.

Playing 71 percent of offensive snaps against the Giants, Parker caught all five passes thrown his way in his return for 62 yards. He made acrobatic sideline catches for first downs on both the touchdown drive at the end of the first half and a key fourth-quarter drive in sealing the win.

“It feels good being back on the field with my teammates,” Parker said in a web conference on Monday. “I’m just glad I was able to be a part of the win. I just wanted to help us get a W, and that’s what I did.”

Having Parker and his ability to make contested, possession-type catches against cornerbacks on the outside gives Tagovailoa that option, expanding on what he’s been able to do with Jaylen Waddle, Mike Gesicki, Mack Hollins and others.

“It creates a lot of defensive issues outside,” said co-offensive coordinator George Godsey on Tuesday. “He does a great job blocking in the run game. He’s got a lot of experience to help out the guys in the meeting room. … Having his experience and productivity out there is definitely a helpful thing for the whole unit.”

Tagovailoa enjoyed being able to throw it up to Parker when in single coverage to allow him to go up and get the ball.

“DeVante adds another vertical stretch for us offensively,” Tagovailoa said after Sunday’s win, “and he makes tough catches when you need him to, so really glad to have him back.”

Tagovailoa and Parker have established chemistry on back-shoulder throws on the sideline in their season-plus together that has been interrupted multiple times by injuries to each.

“You just throw it to the guy and let him catch it because he’s done that and he’s proven that in his career,” Godsey said. “There’s a lot of evidence on tape of guys that have his ability to just get up there and catch the ball, whether it’s behind them, in front of them, a jump ball. As many times as we can get the ball in his vicinity, we like it.”

Added Parker: “Any time you see any of us receivers out there pressed against someone, you assume they’ll want to go to you. It’s a one-on-one matchup. You just want to go to that.”

His presence, while it means targets getting further split, can also free up other Dolphins pass catchers.

“When he’s going, everybody is feeding off of him, everybody is feeding off his energy and it drives everyone else to play better, as well,” said fellow receiver Isaiah Ford. “He’s a special player. He has extremely good body control, ball skills and everything like that.”

And Parker is also coming back to a renewed Tagovailoa.

“He has a lot more confidence, and you see it in his throws,” Parker said. “The one-on-one coverage, he goes to it. That’s what we like to see. Just the confidence in him. That’s good for the team.”

Baker nominated

Dolphins linebacker Jerome Baker was named the team’s nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award, which recognizes a player for outstanding community service activities off the field, as well as excellence on the field.

One of the first recurring events Baker established after he was drafted by the Dolphins in 2018 was a Christmas event for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Miami-Dade. Born on Christmas Day himself, he hosts the event for children as a birthday gift and even made sure the event could be held virtually in 2020 due to the pandemic.

When a residential building collapsed in Surfside in June, Baker partnered with a minority-owned small business food truck to provide meals to first responders aiding in the recovery efforts. After an earthquake hit Haiti in August, Baker helped transport donation items to Haiti and supported a call for action for the public to deliver goods needed by the country.

When he was drafted in 2018, Baker established the Expand the Land Foundation to inspire youth and provide mentorship and programming in his hometown of Cleveland.

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Omar Kelly: Dolphins’ defense deserves praise for helping turn season around

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Omar Kelly: Dolphins’ defense deserves praise for helping turn season around

There is often an opportunity that discomfort creates if it is welcomed.

It’s called growth, and that is what we’ve been witnessing from the Miami Dolphins defense the past five weeks, where that unit’s development, and tightening of the screws has helped the Dolphins (6-7) transform from an NFL laughingstock due to their seven straight losses into a franchise deserving some respect.

Tua Tagovailoa’s accuracy, anticipation and pocket presence have allowed the offense become respectable during Miami’s five-game winning streak. But it’s the defense that is doing the heavy lifting once again.

If there’s one thing the 2021 season has taught us is that expecting things to carryover from one season to the next in the NFL is shortsighted.

The slightest alteration of your roster — like a swap from safety from Bobby McCain to Jevon Holland, a change at outside linebacker from Kyle Van Noy to Jaelan Phillips, the absence of an edge setter Shaq Lawson — could drastically alter your team’s chemistry, shift the unit’s strengths and weaknesses, and impact the team’s style of play.

Defensive coordinator Josh Boyer got a crash course on this earlier this season when he tried to run the same scheme that produced one of the NFL’s stingiest defenses in 2020 with different personnel.

While the defensive play-calls might have been similar — if not the same — the execution wasn’t, and the product on the field left plenty to be desired considering the Dolphins sat at the bottom of many important NFL statistical rankings before the wins started piling up.

Then comfort set in, roles were adapted, and the screws tightened. During this five-game winning streak Miami’s defense allowed just four touchdowns, a stretch where Miami’s opponents averaged 11 points per game.

“I feel like we’re back to that level,” Pro Bowl cornerback Xavien Howard said, referring to the sack-producing, turnover-creating unit the Dolphins possessed last season. “I feel like everybody is confident, everybody is having fun.”

But the road back to respectable wasn’t easy, and featured some growing pains.

For instance, Miami’s run defense tightened once nose tackle Raekwon Davis returned from the knee injury he suffered in the season opener. In the nine games Davis has played since his return only three teams have rushed for 100 or more yards against Miami.

As a result, the Dolphins rank ninth against the run now, allowing 103.8 rushing yards per game, heading into this weekend’s bye.

Clamping down against the run set the table for everything else, but Miami had to overcome some injuries, and be patient with its young players’ development to get here.

Howard and Byron Jones, Miami’s two upper-echelon cornerbacks, the talents whose skill-set this defense is built around, were each nursing a groin injury at the same time earlier in the season. Their injuries impacted their performance, and the schemes Miami could run for nearly a month.

It also took Holland, the Dolphins’ 2021 second-round pick, half a season to become comfortable in Miami’s defense. Now the former Oregon standout is one of the team’s top playmakers, and a leader the secondary leans on.

He’s proof that sometimes teams have to wait for young players to blossom.

That seemed to be the case with not just Holland, but Phillips, whom the Dolphins selected with the 18th overall pick in the 2021 draft. The former University of Miami standout struggled to quickly learn everything that came with being a linebacker in Miami’s scheme.

The Dolphins eventually scrapped (or tabled) the outside linebacker role, and began to use Phillips exclusively as a pass rusher. Last Sunday Phillips set a Dolphins rookie record by reaching 8.5 sacks on the season, and seven of them have come in the past five games.

To simplify things for Phillips, Jerome Baker became an edge player, returning to the outside linebacker role he held in his rookie season. That opened the door for Duke Riley to get more playing time at inside linebacker.

Miami’s defense evolved into what it is today through trial and error and ultimately found a formula that works for this unit — not last year’s defense.

Last year the Dolphins defense allowed a touchdown 57.4 percent of the time teams reached the red zone, which ranked Miami seventh in that statistical category.

This year Miami is allowing 50 percent of red-zone opportunities to turn into touchdowns, which ties Miami with Buffalo for fourth in the NFL.

Only Baltimore, New England and New Orleans are better, and that’s good company to keep.

“It’s about trusting the process. Believing in what you’re doing. Believing in the scheme, and believing in the players,” Boyer said. “From the players, from the coaches, even when things haven’t been good. We all understand that we’re approaching things the right way. We’re working the right way. We haven’t always gotten the results we wanted. Just because you work hard, prepare the right way, coaching it the right way, it really comes down to execution on Sundays.”

The evolution will continue as Holland, Phillips and Baker become more comfortable in their new roles.

The hope is that the growth we’ve seen this past month will carry on throughout the final four games of the regular season, and maybe next year’s defense will start out the 2022 season with less discomfort.

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Three-vehicle crash on C-470 shuts down highway near E-470 junction

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Three-vehicle crash on C-470 shuts down highway near E-470 junction

The westbound lanes of C-470 have been shutdown along the junction with E-470 by a three-vehicle crash.

The highway is closed at Interstate 25 where E-470 turns into C-470, according to E-470 officials.

The three-vehicle crash happened at about 1:55 p.m. Tuesday, according to the Colorado State Patrol. At least two people have been taken by ambulance to a local hospital.

Traffic is being detoured and authorities ask drivers to avoid the stretch if possible.

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