White House Communications Director claims Biden 'never shies away from taking questions'

Media top headlines August 20

In media news today, the Los Angeles Times says Kamala Harris now ‘owns’ Afghanistan policy after touting her role in withdrawal decision, Columbia Journal Review torches NYT, CNN for their roles in the ‘Cuomo myth,’ and media outlets repeat Biden remark that GOP governors are ‘banning masks in schools’

White House Communications Director Kate Bedingfield claimed Friday that President Joe Biden “never shies away from taking questions” from reporters, despite the sharp criticism he’s received for avoiding media queries.

Bedingfield made the media rounds Friday as Biden, who will speak later at the White House, grapples with the worst foreign policy crisis of his presidency in Afghanistan.

“Will President Biden, after his remarks today, take questions? He’s given a couple of speeches, he did the interview with ABC News, but the White House press corps. and the American people have a lot of direct questions for him. Will he take those today?” MSNBC host Willie Geist asked Bedingfield as she appeared on “Morning Joe.” 

“The president never shies away from taking questions. I’ll let him make a decision if he’s going to take questions this afternoon. But you saw he just did a full sit-down interview on this just yesterday. So, he is always willing to take questions and I’ll let him decide if he’s going to do that after his remarks today,” Bedingfield said.

Biden is expected to give an update Friday on U.S. evacuation efforts amid the unraveling situation in Afghanistan, following the takeover by the Taliban and the collapse of the Afghan government this week. It’s not yet clear if reporters will have the opportunity to ask questions following his remarks.

Biden walking away from reporters as they shout questions at him following an event or speech has been a seemingly commonplace occurrence, drawing ire from the media and political rivals. 

Bedingfield’s remarks drew a bemused reaction online.

Most recently, he avoided speaking to reporters as they asked questions about Afghanistan following his Wednesday address on the coronavirus.

In May, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki admitted that Biden taking impromptu reporter questions was not something her team recommended and claimed she often tells him, “Don’t take questions.” 

Formal sit-down interviews have also been rare for Biden when compared to his two most recent predecessors. His ABC News appearance with George Stephanopoulos this week marked just his ninth since taking office. Former Presidents Donald Trump and Barack Obama had 50 and 113, respectively, at the same point in their presidencies.

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