White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre defended President Biden’s communications team for providing ‘cheat sheet’ note cards for the president even as she acknowledged efforts to solicit information from the media to prepare him.
‘We do not have specific questions in advance. That’s not something that we do,’ she told reporters at her daily press briefing, a day after Biden was photographed holding a note card with the name of a reporter labeled ‘question 1’ with information on the topic he got asked about.
‘In fact, I would point out the question that was asked was different than what was on the card,’ she said.
‘Our job is to get a sense of what you all want to ask us. That is our job here,’ she said.
Photographers picked up the memo, prepared by aides, that carried instructions on how to answer questions that reporters had provided in advance
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the the White House did not get specific questions in advance when President Biden held a two-and-two press conference Thursday
‘Our job is to get a sense of the news of the day, he topics are interested to ask of him,’ she said.
‘It is entirely normal for a president to be briefed on reporters who will be asking questions at the press conference,’ she said.
Her comments came after images of Biden’s ‘cheat sheet’ brought new attention on how staff manages his appearances, and brought a question to Jean-Pierre about how the White House selects people who get to question the president.
As it turns out, it came on a day when Biden, 80, took question after question from children on ‘take your child to work day,’ and had to be reminded of the last country he visited (Ireland).
‘We take this very seriously we want to make sure that we’re providing the information that’s helpful to you,’ she said.
Jean-Pierre acknowledged a practice of gaming out who will be at a press conference and trying to suss out what they might ask.
‘We reach out to a number of reporters who we know are going to be at the press conference. And that’s what we did yesterday. And also we try to be really mindful and who has not gotten a question and why,’ she said.
She noted that the L.A. Times, which got called on, hadn’t been called on recently, and represents a large state the largest Korean-American population.
Her comments came amid a renewed focus on Biden’s practice of relying on note cards with printed information, which dates back to his press conferences from the very start of his presidency, when a handy ‘cheat sheet’ contained a pre-determined list of which reporters he should call on.
(He also used one as president-elect before taking office).
The L.A. Times issued a statement in response to questions about what happened.
‘Our reporter did not submit any questions in advance of the Q&A with President Biden,’ said Hillary Manning, Vice President, Communications for the paper.
‘Courtney Subramanian covers the White House for the Los Angeles Times. As such, she is in regular contact with the White House press office seeking information for her reporting. You would have to ask the White House who prepared the document for the president and why they included that question.
The latest instance of Biden getting caught in an embarrassing snap with a long lens came Wednesday, then he held a ‘two-and-two’ press conference in the Rose Garden – only to have text of an apparently pre-screened question revealed on a slim note card. That came after he was criticized for failing to hold a formal press conference on his trip to Ireland.
In this case, the card showed not only the name and face of the reporter he called on, but a version of the question he got asked – raising questions about how the White House determines who will get called on and if a head’s up on the content is the price of admission.
It was far from the only time Biden’s aides helped him out before a high profile presser.
President Joe Biden has relied on note cards – which sometimes get captured by photographers using long lenses – since he entered office in January, 2021
There were lingering questions about Biden’s media practices on Thursday, when he planned to surround himself with kids on the South Lawn as part of Take Your Child to Work Day.
Biden himself referred to ‘cheat sheets’ during the first formal press conference of his presidency, in March 2021.
For that full blown press conference, he held a printed list of reporters attending the event, with photographs of those present and ones he intended to call on circled with numbers.
At an earlier event, he held a note card, headed ‘The President’ and labeled ‘Infrastructure’ with highlights about U.S. infrastructure, bridges, and China that had been checked off.
The 80-year-old made his latest gaffe at a joint press conference with South Korean president Yoon Suk Yeol to celebrate 70 years of friendship with the United States. It came days after he announced his presidential campaign, as one of his campaign co-chairs told DailyMail.com he would run a ‘robust’ campaign that would not be confined to a ‘Rose Garden Strategy.
The cards, prepared by aides, featured a list of Biden’s own senior officials who were taking part in the ceremony at the White House and possible talking points.
‘How are YOU squaring YOUR domestic priorities — like reshoring semiconductors manufacturing — with alliance-based foreign policy?’ read the question from Los Angeles Times reporter Courtney Subramanian.
The long-serving Washington correspondent was one of two journalists called; another reporter demanded to know if the president was too old to run again.
The question Biden got asked was more pointed and detailed than what was on the card, but was on the same subject.
The president’s latest slip-up will further fan criticism that he has rarely allowed himself to be grilled by the media since taking office in January 2021.
By contrast, former president Donald Trump regularly appeared at White House press briefings to field questions himself. Trump would frequently engage in back-and-forth with reporters during his events, including some from less friendly outlets he would label ‘fake news.’ But one of his White House press secretaries didn’t hold a press briefing for a year.
Biden has left supposedly confidential notes in the full glare of the media in the past, and relied on note cards during at least part of his 36-year tenure in the Senate, where many lawmakers carry cards with scheduling information.
Photographers caught him revealing a cheat sheet at the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, last November that instructed him when to sit and take photos.
A close up snap of the President sitting down showed him with a list of instructions that said ‘YOU will sit at the center’ and ‘YOU will deliver opening remarks.’he
The then 79-year-old attended the two-day summit in Bali, Indonesia along with other world leaders.
Biden was also caught with a similar note at a June 2022 meeting with wind-industry executives.
This one had the same formatting for what was called a ‘Drop-By’ event just steps from the Oval Office.
‘YOU enter the Roosevelt Room and say hello to participants. YOU take YOUR seat. Press enters. YOU give brief comments,’ it said, with a length that is obscured in an image.
‘YOU ask Liz Shuler, President, AFL-CIO, a question. Note: Liz is joining virtually,’ the card helpfully reminds. ‘YOU thank participants. You depart,’ it concludes.
Biden opens his notes during the press conference with the South Korean President on Wednesday afternoon
The two leaders were meeting to celebrate 70 years of friendship between the United States and South Korea
The 79-year-old was also instructed to speak to specific attendees, ask them questions and thank them before leaving the room at the June 2022 meeting.
President Biden was prompted to wipe a yellow mark from his face during a Zoom meeting with state governors after a staffer handed him a note saying: ‘Sir, there is something on your chin’
Biden sometimes uses the cards to write down things he intends to say during events
Hand written slash marks could indicate when Biden has completed a point he and aides wanted him to make. Biden, who suffers from a speech impediment, has spent decades learning ways to overcome the issue
The White House has continued the practice even as photographers have continued to photograph the cards, as an AFP photographer did in August 2022 during an event on floods in Kentucky
Then earlier that year, Biden was mocked for using a printed ‘cheat sheet’ of answers to expected questions when he faced the media to discuss the Ukraine war.
The notes read: ‘If you weren’t advocating for regime change, what did you mean? Can you clarify?’ Another read: ‘Is this now threatening to splinter unity with your NATO allies?’
Biden already had an answer prepared on the printed card: ‘No. NATO has never been more united.’
And in one embarrassing exchange, an aide asked him to wipe a stain from his face during a Zoom call with state governors in July 2021.
He regularly uses cue cards, and they were a permanent fixture of the campaign trail in 2020.
But the repeated exposure of his descriptive notes have sparked concerns for his well-being and health.
Republican lawmakers have suggested that Biden’s apparent decline makes him unfit to serve a second four-year term.