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The Los Angeles Times has denied that it submitted questions to the White House ahead of a Wednesday press conference after a notecard held by President Joe Biden contained a general summary of a question that a reporter for the newspaper asked, sparking questions from observers.
“Our reporter did not submit any questions in advance of the Q&A with President Biden,” Hillary Manning, vice president of communications for the newspaper, wrote in a statement to Fox News.
“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 LA Times recieved questions after Mr Biden was pictured at the press conference holding a notecard with Subramanian’s face on it and information on the question she asked. Subramanian was the first reporter Mr Biden called on at the press conference.
Joe Biden’s notecard doesn’t just tell him which reporters to call on, it includes what order to call on them in and what PRE-SUBMITTED questions they’re going to ask.
There’s no way this happened under Trump..
— Benny Johnson (@bennyjohnson) April 26, 2023
CNN White House correspondent Arlette Saenz was asked about the incident on CNN This Morning on Thursday, and said that while the president’s staff often prepares notecards with briefing information for him, it is “the level of specificity that is in the spotlight.”
The photograph of the notecard taken by Win McNamee of Getty Images, seemed to suggest that Mr Biden’s team thought Subramanian would ask, in part, “How are YOU squaring YOUR domestic priorities — like reshoring semiconductors manufacturing — with alliance-based foreign policy?”
Subramanian’s actual question delved into specifics, but adhered to that general premise.
“Your top economic priority has been to build up US domestic manufacturing in competition with China, but your rules against expanding chip manufacturing in China is hurting South Korean companies that rely heavily on Beijing,” she asked. “Are you damaging a key ally in the competition with China to help your domestic politics ahead of the election?”
The Independent has contacted the White House for comment on the allegation.
The controversy over the notecard relates to questions about journalistic ethics, but also about Mr Biden’s age and acuity as he runs for re-election.
Mr Biden is already the oldest president in American history at 80 years old, and observers say he is noticeably slower than when he launched his last campaign in 2019. Republicans have suggested that Mr Biden lacks mental fitness and that the note cards his advisers prepare for him in advance of public appearances is proof of that.
But Mr Biden and his advisers have rejected that charge, arguing that his age has not affected his job performance. His potential opponent in 2024, former President Donald Trump, has also faced questions about his health and fitness for office.