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White House backtracks after Biden falsely claims friendly interview is major press conference

By Sarah May
|
May 7, 2023

As a self-described “gaffe machine,” President Joe Biden is no stranger to embarrassing verbal slip-ups, but the latest in a string of misfires came Friday when he told reporters that their questions would be answered imminently in a “major press conference” he claimed he was about to hold, as the Daily Mail reports.

The trouble for Biden, however, was the fact that no such event was on the schedule, and therefore, White House officials had the task – yet again – of providing clarification and correction.

Not a Press Conference

The president's confusing assertion came after an “Investing in America” Cabinet meeting, when he was discussing the debt ceiling standoff with Republicans and the latest job numbers just released.

That is when Biden told assembled journalists, “I'm doing a major press conference this afternoon, so I love you all, but I'd like to ask you to leave so we can get down to business.”

Not surprisingly, that comment sparked excitement and requests for comment from the White House, and though none were forthcoming, a reporter with the New York Times tweeted that two sources from the administration indicated that no press conference was in the offing after all.

Ultimately, it became clear to what Biden was actually referring, namely, a one-on-one interview with MSNBC's Stephanie Ruhle, which was set to air later on Friday evening.

Gaffe Prompts Mockery

Biden's error prompted a deluge of criticism from conservatives who found it ironic that the president conflated press conferences and interviews, given that he has been assailed for months about his reluctance to participate in either during his Oval Office tenure.

Specifically, Biden's MSNBC sit-down with Ruhle was his first such interview with a television journalist since February and the first time he engaged in such a back-and-forth since declaring his reelection bid, as the Mail noted.

Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel was quick to comment on the awkwardness of the scenario, saying, “The White House is already scrambling to walk this back.”

McDaniel pointedly added, “Biden's last solo press conference was 172 days ago.”

“A Hell of a Lot of Wisdom”

Though it was by no means a “major press conference,” Biden's chat with Ruhle has made its share of headlines, touching on topics including his age, his son Hunter's potential legal troubles, and more.

As Fox News reports, when Ruhle broached the subject of whether a man of Biden's age is in fact the “right person for the most important job in the world,” the president articulated why he believes he is indeed the best candidate to fill that role.

“Because I have acquired a hell of a lot of wisdom,” Biden said. “I know more than the vast majority of people. I'm more experienced than anybody who has ever run for the office, and I think I've proven myself to be honorable as well as also effective.”

In response, Steve Guest, a communications adviser to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) tweeted simply, “Joe Biden is delusional.”

Defending Hunter

With federal prosecutors reportedly getting close to a charging decision regarding first son Hunter Biden's various alleged federal offenses, Ruhle asked the president to weigh in on what the impact of that might be on his current administration and his plans for a second term, as NBC News noted.

“First of all, my son has done nothing wrong. I trust him. I have faith in him,” Biden declared.

On the potential harm an indictment might do to the things he is trying to accomplish as commander in chief, Biden added, “It impacts my presidency by making me feel proud of him.”

Whether the majority of American voters are convinced by Biden's claims about his qualifications or his son's entanglements, however, only time will tell.