After 65 days in office to prepare for his first press conference, President Joe Biden relied heavily on notes for certain questions from the media. The 78-year-old Democratic president also had a cheat sheet with photos of White House reporters, which he seemingly used to determine which reporters he would call on during Thursday’s news conference.
The cheat sheet in question had the faces and names of White House reporters, as well as what news outlets they represented. The guide was organized to show where the reporters were sitting during the press conference. The reporters had numbers next to their faces, which many speculate apply to which reporters Biden was instructed to take questions from and in what order to take them.
On March 16, Newsmax host Greg Kelly revealed that the White House press office asked that reporters submit their questions for Biden’s first press conference. According to Kelly, White House press secretary Jen Psaki “will get back to you about whether or not your was approved.”
Philip Melanchthon, White House reporter for Real Clear News, said, “Biden appears to be calling on reporters from a prepared list.”
Of the 25 reporters in attendance, Biden called on reporters from the Associated Press, PBS, Washington Post, ABC News, NBC News, CBS News, CNN, Bloomberg News, and Univision. PBS White House reporter Yamiche Alcindor was criticized heavily for her softball question prefaced with the sentiment that the border crisis may have been created because Biden has the perception of being a “moral, decent man.”
Biden did not take a question from Fox News White House reporter Peter Doocy or any conservative-leaning outlet. Doocy said he had a “binder full of questions” for President Biden, including how he plans to transform the economy to be more green and where COVID-19 originated from.
Biden was asked about North Korea testing ballistic missiles, and he appeared to read a prepared response word for word.
Fox News host Chris Wallace said he was “struck” that when asked questions about foreign policy, Biden “went to his briefing book like Jen Psaki does sometimes in the briefings and was reading obviously White House guidance, White House talking points.”
“Covering Ronald Reagan for six years, I never saw that,” Wallace said. “Watching a lot of news conferences over the years, I’ve never seen that — a president in a news conference reading talking points. He did that on, it seemed, every foreign policy question.”