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Biden's campaign team scripted his first post-debate interview questions

In response to the president's disastrous performance in the debate with Donald Trump, his team scheduled a series of meetings with reporters where they sent out interview scripts to get everything under control.

US President Joe Biden AFP

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President Joe Biden's campaign team has responded to his disastrous performance in the first debate by arranging a series of meetings with journalists to show that he simply had a bad night.

They hoped that meeting with journalists would clear up doubts about his cognitive state. Although the best known interview was the televised on ABC News, he previously conducted a series of radio interviews. This weekend it emerged that at least two of them were scripted.

Andrea Lawful-Sanders, host of The Source in Philadelphia, revealed that the president's campaign team sent her a list of questions before they spoke on the air in the first interview after the meeting between the two candidates.

"I got several questions, eight of them, and the four that were chosen were the ones that I approved," Lawful-Sanders said in conversation with CNN's Victor Blackwell.

Earl Ingram also interviewed Biden on The Earl Ingram Show during the week. Blackwell claimed that the questions from both reporters had been very similar. Ingram later told ABC News that he had been given five questions, of which he chose four. "I didn't get a chance to ask him all the things I wanted to ask."

Even before the intervention from Biden's team went public, the president was criticized for his appearance on The Source by listeners who pointed out errors in his answers.

An inappropriate defense

"It’s not at all an uncommon practice for interviewees to share topics they would prefer. These questions were relevant to the news of the day. The president was asked about his debate performance as well as what he'd delivered for Black Americans," Democratic spokesperson Lauren Hitt said in a statement picked up by The Washington Post.

Although the campaign defended this practice, Biden’s team told both CNN and ABC News that they would stop sending questions before interviews.

Just days earlier, the official Biden-Harris campaign website had described Trump as "paranoid and overwhelmed" because, they claimed, his team had canceled a television interview after asking a reporter for the questions:

Michael LaRosa, the first lady's former press secretary, told Axios that Biden's team was used to handing out a list of questions prior to the president's media appearances. He said that it was unethical and that he had refused at the time to "embarrass" Jill Biden "that way."

Controversy with Black voters

The news also drew criticism from African-American voters, since the two programs in the controversy target that community.

"The only reason President Biden is at the top of this ticket is his genuine, long-standing relationship with Black voters, built over decades," a Black Democratic strategist told Axios. 

"For his team to throw that relationship into jeopardy by using Black journalists as human shields for their communications crisis should be a fireable offense.” 

Despite being traditionally loyal to the Democratic Party, the polls have been showing that Black voters are moving away from the Democratic Party. The latest reports could further exacerbate this loss of votes.