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Guess What, White House Correspondents: Biden’s Joke Was On You

Guess what, White House correspondents: Biden’s joke was on you

Guess what, White House correspondents: Biden’s joke was on you

President Biden speaks during the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner in D.C. on Saturday. (Carolyn Kaster/AP) President Biden began his jokes at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner on Saturday by quipping, “In a lot of ways, this dinner sums up my first two years in office. I’ll talk for 10 minutes, take zero questions and cheerfully walk away.” The audience laughed. Why were you laughing, reporters? The president was joking about how easily he can avoid interacting with you, and how little consequence there is for his refusing to answer your questions. You’re the butt of the joke, White House correspondents! Biden was minimally accessible during the 2020 election season — the “ basement campaign ,” purportedly to avoid the risk of catching covid-19 — and now he barely interacts with the press as president. It is already May, and Biden hasn’t held a solo news conference in 2023; he has held two joint news conferences so far this year with foreign heads of state. Biden did just five solo news conferences in 2022. Advertisement The White House insists Biden makes up for it with sit-down interviews. Sorry, chatting with Drew Barrymore about favorite Christmas gifts doesn’t count. And face it, we all know why the 80-year-old Biden doesn’t do a lot of news conferences or one-on-one interviews that might put him on the spot. Even in his prime, Biden had a runaway mouth. His prime far in the past, Biden’s rambling asides and meandering musings have only gotten worse. A few lowlights: In the White House briefing room on March 27, where Biden had been expected to address the horrific mass shooting at a Nashville school earlier that day, the president first went on an extended riff about his love for ice cream . Last June, he sat on Jimmy Kimmel’s couch and went on a confusing tangent about “biracial couples” on TV. A few months earlier, he contradicted his own Cabinet, calling for regime change in Moscow. (The White House scrambled to walk that one back .) After the disastrous withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan in 2021, Biden said he didn’t recall any advisers recommending leaving a U.S. military presence there; Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., head of U.S. Central Command, and Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, both told Congress, under oath, that they had made just such a recommendation to the president. Advertisement Given that disquieting context, now let’s consider Biden’s “cheat sheet” at his April 26 joint news conference with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol. If the White House press staff wants to know the general topic that a reporter plans to ask about, there’s little or no harm done — “So-and-so from that wire service has a question about Ukraine,” etc. It’s reasonable for the White House to want the president to know what topics he should be prepared to discuss. But what Biden was holding, as seen in a photograph from the event, was much more specific than that. As The Post’s Paul Farhi laid out , a “card in Biden’s hand, titled ‘Question # 1,’ clearly directs the president to call on a Los Angeles Times reporter, Courtney Subramanian. The card has Subramanian’s name (including a pronunciation guide for her surname), her affiliation and even a headshot. More important, photos taken by an Agence France-Presse photographer show what Subramanian was likely to ask about. Under the heading ‘Foreign Policy/Semiconductor Manufacturing,’ the card reads, ‘How are YOU squaring YOUR domestic priorities — like reshoring semiconductors manufacturing — with alliance-based foreign policy?’” Advertisement Subramanian did not ask that question verbatim, but it was close enough, with a few specifics added. Biden’s cheat sheet went well beyond providing him with a “what topic” tip, and it turns the White House press corps into collaborators in an exercise intended to protect the president from embarrassment — and mislead the public into thinking he’s more on the ball than he really is. There are signs that reporters are growing restive. When Biden, during his recent trip to Ireland, skipped the tradition of holding a news conference while abroad, reporters made clear their general frustration with their lack of access to Biden. The New York Times noted last month that Biden has held the fewest news conferences and granted the fewest interviews — 54 — since Ronald Reagan. Donald Trump, by contrast, gave 202 during his first two years in office. If reporters covering Biden want him to answer […]

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Daisie Hobson

Daisie Hobson is a Director at the Reshoring Institute and an engineer with many years of experience in manufacturing and project management.

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