ICYMI: WH Press Keep Their Eyes on the Ball, Pummel KJP Over Declinin’ Biden

News & Politics

In case you didn’t see the litany of embarrassing clips on X earlier this week, Wednesday’s White House press briefing revealed more surprising message discipline from the beat reporters as they continued to rhetorically bludgeon the Biden administration and the ever-inept Karine Jean-Pierre with questions about the obvious mental decline of President Biden (which, for many, have only decided to acknowledge after Thursday’s debate).

Real Clear Politics’s Philip Wegmann and Daily Mail’s Emily Goodin were two of the last three reporters called on, but were perhaps the most biting. Wegmann called out Biden’s lies about servicemembers dying on his watch when 13 were lost in Afghanistan and three in Jordan:

Following a question about what Biden meant when he said in the debate that he “beat Medicare”, he noted Jean-Pierre has “more interaction with the President than – than most folks”, so does she “believe that the President is as sharp today as he was when he took this job”.

Jean-Pierre had a response for the ages, arguing Biden’s not only “strong and resolute”, but he’s “engage[d]”, “pushes” and “prods us” to do more and “is as sharp as ever.”

Goodin followed up on something CNN’s M.J. Lee had brought up earlier about whether Biden had recently seen a doctor:

Back to the beginning, AP’s Seung Min Kim really set the tone with a tone of incredulousness. Not surprisingly, Jean-Pierre gave a long answer rehashing almost word-for-word talking points from Tuesday:

Kim snuffed out this as “excuses”, not an “explanation”, which Jean-Pierre unsurprisingly disagreed with and even claimed nearly two weeks after crossing an ocean and multiple time zones was indeed cause to falter in the debate of your life. Kim’s final question as she wondered why Biden wasn’t calling congressional allies last Friday and a day after the debate instead of four or five days later.

CBS’s Weijia Jiang had questions about whether Biden would step down and the correct take that Biden “owe[s] it to the American public to reflect on whether he should step down”:

Fox’s Jacqui Heinrich grilled Jean-Pierre on the months-old story from Axios that Biden only truly functions in a work setting for six hours a day as well as the notion he takes daily naps. She also hammered home the idea that why was Biden going to a Waffle House and staging a fiery rally if he had such a horrendous cold. Needless to say, Jean-Pierre didn’t appreciate it:

Another notable moment of the briefing came when Newsmax’s James Rosen interjected to wonder if Biden’s currently “awake”.

This triggered a scolding from NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell:

Skipping ahead a few minutes, ABC’s Selina Wang had the critical question her colleague and chief Biden apple polisher Mary Bruce wouldn’t dare be caught asking: “If there are so many questions right now about whether President Biden can do this job, why are we not seeing the President out there every single day in an unscripted way without teleprompters?”

Jean-Pierre wouldn’t answer the question, instead touting his Fourth of July gathering with servicemembers and their families, his trip to Wisconsin, and his record of “the strongest economic recovery in modern – in modern history.”

Things got even worse when Wang asked why Biden won’t answer these questions himself (click “expand”):

WANG: But again, we’re now almost a week after the debate. Why doesn’t the President just come here right now and answer for himself with this briefing room? All the questions that we have?

JEAN-PIERRE: Well — well — you — you — you asked me a couple of things. You asked — uh — when — when is he going to be on? He has been — when he went to visit a — a diner in — uh — uh — uh — a couple of days ago at the Waffle House when he met with — um — met with some of the supporters in Atlanta, North Carolina, where hundreds of supporters showed up. He certainly had an opportunity to engage on Friday. He’s going to be taking some questions from one of your colleagues. I think that’s going to be important and we’re going to continue to engage with all of you. Ah — we’re going to certainly — uh — looking forward to doing that. He’ll have a press conference — uh — next week — uh — at NATO press conference, a big boy press conference as Justin from Bloomberg stated yesterday — uh — and so, we’ll — we’ll do that, and he’s looking forward to it.

WANG: And Karine —

JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah?

WANG: — President Biden has always promised to tell the American people the truth.

JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah?

WANG: So, can you be straight with us —

JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah?

WANG: — and the American people, is the President clear-eyed about what it takes to stay in the race and what it would take for him to drop out?

JEAN-PIERRE: The President is clear eyed and he is staying in the race. I don’t have anything else beyond that. He is staying. He’s staying in the race. That is what the President is promised to do. That is what he wants to continue to work on the successes that he’s had. His record — his unprecedented record, and that is what the President is focused on, continuing to deliver for the American people, and he looks forward to doing that.

In an exchange that has since been proven to have been a lie by the White House, Lee inquired as to when Biden was last examined by a doctor for his health:

Lee expressed frustration that Jean-Pierre “feel[s] like the White House has been thorough in the medical records that you all have released”, but last Thursday showed they haven’t been at all. Lee also caught Jean-Pierre when she pointed out the jet lag excuse from Biden wasn’t one Jean-Pierre herself doled out on Tuesday.

USA Today’s Joey Garrison hit the nail on the head with this question about Biden’s future if he were to win a second term: “If President Biden was fatigued during the debate because of overseas travel, that was 12 days beforehand, like he said he was last night, doesn’t that raise questions about his ability to effectively serve in others a second term until he’s 86?”

Perhaps the biggest tool in the press corps except for Bruce, The Washington Post’s Matt Viser wanted to know if “you guys usually have accommodations for him after he does a trip that he’s gonna have jet lag for that long a period of time” and if they’re honestly going with the (preposterous) idea of jet lag taking a two-week toll on Biden as for why he did so poorly in the debate.

Of course, Jean-Pierre, in so many words, said yes in addition to “the cold”.

“But if this truly is an emergency situation. It’s taking almost a week for him to address it when there’s natural disasters, when there’s other things happening. He wants to get in front of the cameras and speak to it. In this case, there seems to be multiple days before that happens,” Viser said in a fruitless follow-up.

Fox Business’s Edward Lawrence brought the heat on policy with questions about NATO and Biden’s delegitimizing of the Supreme Court (click “expand”):

LAWRENCE: Polling this week shows the President losing more ground in the American eyes over immigration, over economy, and foreign policy. So, does that, with everything else, diminish the position of the president as these NATO leaders are coming in for those meetings?

JEAN-PIERRE: No, I don’t think so. I don’t think so and I said this moments ago when I was answering a question of one of your colleagues. These foreign leaders have seen the President personally, up close for the past three years. They have talked about his leadership. They have commended his leadership. They have been proud to see him as the president of the United States after what they experienced in the last administration. They have — some of them have been even quoted about what the president has been able to do during his past three years. German Chancellor Scholz: “I think that the — that Joe Biden is someone who is very clear, who knows exactly what he is doing and who is one of the most experienced politicians in the world, especially when it comes to international politics.” The Prime Minister of Israel, Bibi Netanyahu: “I have had more than a dozen phone conversation — extended phone conversations with President Biden.”  He has also came — he “also came on a visit to Israel during wartime, which is an historic first.”  “I found him very clear and very focused.” I mean, these are — these are leaders that he has had extensive engagement with over the past three years.  They have seen him up close and personal. The President looks very — very much looks forward to — to hosting — hosting NATO next week — the NATO Summit.

LAWRENCE: If I could ask you about the Supreme Court quickly.  So, the comments that the President made on Monday. Does the President respect the authority of the Supreme Court?

JEAN-PIERRE:  Here’s what I will say: The President has spoken often, very powerfully about the events on — of January 6th — he has — and his views on what happened on that day And what you heard from the president Monday night — he wasn’t supposed to speak; he came back, he saw — he — he felt so strongly about the decision from the Supreme Court that he came back early and wanted to speak directly to the American people and that’s what he did. It was that significant.  He believed, as president of the United States, to speak directly to the American people, and he said this is a “dangerous precedent.” It is. It’s a dangerous precedent. He also said and laid out that the Supreme Court has continued to take away long-established freedoms and norms, including a woman’s right to choose, and now threatening the fundamental American principle that no one is above the law and so, this is why the President came back and that’s what he spoke out about and he fears for our democracy and he knows we must do everything that we can to fight.

LAWRENCE: But he can disagree with a ruling. Does he respect the authority?

JEAN-PIERRE: He respects the authority of the Supreme Court and like you just said in your question, he disagrees with the ruling. Absolutely. It is unprecedented. It is dangerous and that’s why the President wanted to make sure that the American people heard directly from him.

Ater Goodin and Wegmann, ABC producer Molly Nagles closed with questions about Biden’s psyche and specifically whether he “recognizes how difficult his political predicament” is and if he’s “frustrat[ed]”. Like a loyal foot soldier, Jean-Pierre insisted Biden was putting it all behind him.

To see the relevant briefing transcript from July 3 (including even more questions), click here.

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