White House reporters are protesting after President Joe Biden’s handlers did their best imitation of screaming banshees as they blocked reporters from asking him questions during British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s visit to the White House on Tuesday.
Johnson and Biden held a brief photo op in the Oval Office during which Johnson answered questions from the British media.
As he finished his answers, the race was on between White House staff yelling at reporters that it was time to leave and reporters trying to get in a question as Biden impassively observed the screeching scrum.
MOMENTS AGO: Staff orders news media to leave The White House as UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks mid-sentence pic.twitter.com/MXg2m0o1hq
— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) September 21, 2021
Ed O’Keefe of CBS News said he was able to ask Biden for his reaction to events at the nation’s southern border, where waves of illegal Haitian immigrants have swamped the region around Del Rio, Texas.
O’Keefe tweeted that he heard Biden say “violence is not justified.”
As we were leaving, I asked the president for his reaction to the situation on the southern border. Due to shouting by White House aides, the noise of everyone leaving, and the president wearing his mask, we could not make out his answer.
— Ed O'Keefe (@edokeefe) September 21, 2021
UPDATE: We have played back the tape and part of the president’s answer is decipherable. I asked for his response to the situation on the southern border and he says in part, “Violence is not justified.”
He is wearing a mask and there is shouting so nothing else is decipherable
— Ed O’Keefe (@edokeefe) September 21, 2021
The comment appeared linked to media claims that Border Patrol agents on horseback were using whips in their efforts to control the mass of migrants. In fact, they were holding the horses’ reins.
White House Correspondents’ Association President Steve Portnoy said editorial members of the media pool confronted White House press secretary Jen Psaki to make a formal complaint about the incident.
“The entire editorial component of the US pool went immediately into Jen Psaki’s office to register a formal complaint that no American reporters were recognized for questions in the president’s Oval Office, and that wranglers loudly shouted over the president as he seemed to give an answer to Ed O’Keefe’s question about the situation at the Southern Border,” he said in a statement, according to Fox News. “Biden’s answer could not be heard over the shouting.
“Psaki was unaware that the incident had occurred, and suggested that she was not in position to offer an immediate solution. Your pooler requested a press conference. Psaki suggested the president takes questions several times a week.”
Portnoy also addressed the incident on Twitter, writing Tuesday, “IN THE PRESIDENT’S OVAL OFFICE: Boris Johnson recognized two British reporters for questions. Joe Biden then signaled it was time for the press to leave, without taking any questions from his own press corps.”
The White House received a sound scolding from others for its tactics in protecting the president from the press.
NO ANSWER QUESTIONS BIDEN: How can the American people tolerate the president NOT taking nor answering questions from the press? A flagrant plan to keep him silenced to hide his severely weak cognitive state. The leader of the free world is faking it. https://t.co/lxI5Vpmmrk
— Fernando Amandi Sr. 🇺🇸 (@FernandoAmandi) September 22, 2021
He may not scream “fake news” but his aides have no problem screaming “let’s go, thank you!” That’s Biden White House code for “get the heck out of the Oval” https://t.co/Bgat0pkzt7
— Joe St. George (@JoeStGeorge) September 21, 2021
Prior to the shrieking denouement of the photo op, Johnson had asked Biden about allowing a question or two, according to the New York Post.
“Good luck,” Biden said.
The questions came from British reporters, one of whom asked about Northern Ireland and the other an American government employee who killed a British teenager in a car crash.
Johnson then interjected a comment, but before he finished speaking, reporters were given the bum’s rush.