WASHINGTON, D.C. – President Joe Biden – who is already raising eyeballs for not having held a solo press conference during his first 44+ days in office, a record – was wrapping up a virtual appearance at a House Democratic Caucus event Wednesday evening when he offered to take questions… seconds before his live feed was suddenly cut off.
Biden had participated in a House Democratic virtual retreat via video conference, but at the end of his comments on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, as he was turning the even back over to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), the President said, “I’m happy to take questions if that’s what you… I’m supposed to do, Nance. Whatever you want me to do.”
Then, the video and audio feed from both the House and the White House went blank.
The clip went viral, and conservative commentators tweeted up a storm, essentially accusing the White House of panicking at the thought of Biden having an open mic – amid accusations of the President’s supposed mental decline – and quickly pulled the plug on the proceedings.
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However, according to The Washington Post, the reason the video feed ended was that Biden was speaking exclusively to House members and not reporters, and the brief “closed press” Q&A session he actually did carry out – he reportedly took only two questions from House members – were not considered public.
“The remarks were the only part of the meeting that were planned as open press,” a White House official said.
Still, the incident has only compounded the pressure mounting on the President to finally hold a solo press conference; on occasion Biden has answered questions from reporters, but his critics maintain that this is no substitute for a full-blown press conference.