Tethered to the Teleprompter: Biden Steers Clear of Oval Office for Rooms That Accommodate Bulky Device

Geriatric president speaks from historic work space considerably less than predecessor Trump

President Joe Biden / Getty Images
May 6, 2022

Sixteen months into his term, President Joe Biden has delivered fewer than half as many public remarks from the Oval Office as his predecessor. The reason: The office is too small to accommodate the geriatric president's teleprompter.

Biden has made public remarks from the Oval Office just 21 times since he became president, a Washington Free Beacon review of Government Publishing Office (GPO) records shows. All but three of those instances came during the Democrat's first four months in office. Former president Donald Trump, meanwhile, delivered public remarks from the Oval at least 45 times during his first 16 months in office, according to the GPO's presidential archives

The Oval Office has served as presidents' formal work space for nearly 100 years and features a fireplace, sofas, and two bookcases. But for Biden, the world-famous office features one crucial drawback—it can't be fitted with a permanent teleprompter. As a result, Politico reported Thursday, Biden's aides "prefer the fake White House stage built in the Old Executive Office Building next door for events," an "otherwise sterile room that was outfitted with an easily read teleprompter screen." 

Biden's need to use a sizable teleprompter for routine press events calls into question his ability to campaign for a second term. The 79-year-old president used the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 to largely campaign from his Delaware mansion's basement, a luxury he almost certainly cannot afford in 2024.

The White House did not return a request for comment.

Biden's White House set features fake windows that show a digital view of the Rose Garden. In late September, the Democrat used the space to receive his COVID-19 booster shot on live television. Roughly one week later, in October, Biden sat in front of the digital window to hold a roundtable with business leaders and CEOs. 

Since then, the president has made public remarks in the Oval Office just two times, according to GPO records. His most recent Oval Office address came in February, when he spoke to the press before a meeting with Sen. Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.). Biden did not take questions from reporters at the time.

Prior to Politico's report, White House officials dismissed controversy over the faux White House set. Outgoing press secretary Jen Psaki said the space is "really not that exciting" and "just a place where you can do events" during a February appearance on actor Rob Lowe's podcast.

Biden's widespread teleprompter use has not stopped him from making gaffes during prepared speeches. While speaking on the war in Ukraine on Tuesday, the president said he "made sure Russia had javelins and other weapons to strengthen their defenses" and mentioned a "young Hungarian fighter."