Tom Elliott at Grabien pointed out that CNN – the network of Screaming Jim Acosta – now has soft-soapy White House reporter Arlette Saenz making lame excuses for a photo that demonstrated President Biden seemed to have fore-knowledge of his first press-conference question, from the Los Angeles Times.
The card showed Biden a picture of reporter Courtney Subramanian, how to pronounce her name, and how she would ask about "semiconductor manufacturing," which she did.
Saenz, the anti-Acosta who often simply repeats everything she’s told by Team Biden, acknowledged Biden often has briefing notes, but the “specificity” of the reporter and her question stood out. Then came the weaselly part:
SAENZ: Now, it's worth noting that her question was not identical to what was on that note card and her outlet says that they did not submit any questions to the White House ahead of this press conference. But we have seen the president in the past carrying around these note cards with details about the events, where he needs to go, the people that he's meeting with. Now, these types of moments are things that Republicans have seized on especially as they have tried to highlight President Biden's age.
It's just silly to say well, the "question was not identical." It carried a strong resemblance. Fellow White House reporters (like Jacqui Heinrich on Fox) shouldn't be making weak-tea excuses for their colleagues.
The question was certainly appropriate for a presser with South Korea's president, given there is a conflict between domestic manufacture of semiconductors instead of relying on Asian nations. I was a White House reporter, and would have used that opportunity to ask if he and his aides are meddling in the Hunter Biden investigation. But at a time when Biden very rarely gives a press conference -- even one of these "two and twos" where he's only taking two questions -- an "independent" media shouldn't be caught with the appearance of flagrantly tipping the Biden White House about their questions in advance.
The Times denied it, but is that really plausible? Former Bush press secretary Ari Fleisher -- the guy I once questioned at the White House -- put the question where it belongs, on the newspaper that now looks like a very cooperative flock of flunkies:
The LA Times needs to investigate this.— Ari Fleischer (@AriFleischer) April 26, 2023
No WH reporter would ever tell me what question they intended to ask POTUS. It would be unethical - not to mention soft - to do so.
The Times and this reporter have explaining to do. https://t.co/7LGyl04KCz
The White House Correspondents Association used to wage war on Trump's press team, but where are they now with any umbrage?
ABC’s Mary Bruce asked about Biden’s age yesterday, but our briefing expert Curtis Houck recalled that back in 2017, ABC's White House reporters were fyooo-rious that Trump only called on “friendly conservative” outlets:
In the post-press conference coverage, Vega ranted, “I want to tell you about the open hostility right here in this room. You know, I'm sitting right here kind of in the middle of the pack of a number of journalists, mainstream reporters, if you will, and there is open anger in here about the fact the President did not take any real questions about the issue of the day.”
The question of the day, according to Vega, was Michael Flynn’s resignation. Speaking for other journalists, she raged, “And so, you're feeling an open sense of anger and frustration here.” Reporter Karl sputtered, “George, it is astounding. We have now had four presidential news conferences and the President, for the most part, has simply avoided calling on people from news organizations.”
Hunter Biden and his links to the Ukrainians and the Chinese could be the Michael Flynn-like issue right now.
In January 2018, MSNBC complained Trump only called on "conservative outlets" (Fox and the Washington Examiner) at a two-and-two.
In February 2017, Trump called on Scott Thuman of Sinclair and a Daily Caller reporter named.....Kaitlan Collins (who was helping along Saenz's excuses today).