Making his first appearance during a White House Q&A since March 10 (when he asked Jen Psaki whether President Biden owns an electric car), Fox News’s Peter Doocy went toe-to-toe with Biden Monday over numerous statements the latter made during last week’s European excursion that drew condemnations from international leaders and White House walkbacks.
Doocy surfaced partway through the 13-minute availability with “an important question” after Biden needled him about “ask[ing] a really nice question”: “Are you worried that other leaders in the world are going to start to doubt that America is back if some of these big things that you say on the world stage keep getting walked back?”
Biden was incredulous, wondering: “What’s getting walked back?”
Doocy ran through three examples before Biden interrupted to say “none of the three occurred”:
It made it sound like, just in the last couple days, sounded like you told U.S. troops that they were going to Ukraine, it sounded like you said it was possible the U.S. would use a chemical weapon, and it sounded like you were calling for regime change in Russia.
Biden added that “you interpret the language that way” and argued he was merely talking to U.S. troops about what they’d see while training Ukrainians in Poland.
On the threat of chemical weapons, Doocy asked again and Biden demurred. But when Doocy asked “what...that mean[t],” Biden quipped: “I’m not going to tell you. Why would I tell you? You gotta be silly.”
Doocy wrapped by saying it’s something “the world wants to know,” but Biden wouldn’t budge: “The world wants to know a lot of things. I'm not telling them what the response would be. Then, Russia knows the response.”
Prior to Doocy, things weren’t going swimmingly for Biden via the reporters on his pre-selected list. NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell took pole position (click “expand”):
O’DONNELL: Do you believe what you said, that Putin can't remain in power or do you now regret saying that because your government has been trying to walk that back. Do your words complicate matters?
BIDEN: Well, you asked three different questions. I'll answer them all. Number one, I'm not walking anything back. The fact of the matter is, I was expressing the moral outrage I felt toward the way Putin is dealing and the actions of this man, just — just brutality, half the children in Ukraine. I just came from being with those families and — and so — but I want to make it clear. I wasn't there or nor am I now articulating a policy change. I was expressing moral outrage that I feel and make no apologies.
O’DONNELL: Personal feelings sir? They’re personal feelings?
BIDEN: My personal feelings. Secondly, you asked me about — well, what was this second part?
O’DONNELL: Does it complicate the diplomacy of this moment?
BIDEN: No, I don't think it does. You know, the — the fact is that we're in a situation where it — what complicates the situation at the moment are the escalatory efforts for Putin to continue to engage in carnage, the kind of behavior that makes the whole world say my god, what is this man doing? That's what complicates things a great deal and — but I don't think it complicates it at all.
After Reuters’s Steve Holland tried to clarify, CNN’s Kaitlan Collins wanted to know why he even said Putin needed to go to begin with, but again, Biden suggested there was nothing wrong with calling for Putin to lose power since his behavior in Ukraine has been “totally unacceptable.”
Skipping past Doocy Time, PBS’s Lisa Dejardins reminded viewers of why PBS deserves to be defunded as she repeatedly sucked up to Biden, gushing he has “more foreign policy experience than any president who has ever held this office” before pleading with him to “understand” why there’s such concern as he “command[s] one of the largest nuclear arsenals in the world.”
Biden repeatedly denied how there would be any concern or that it could be used as “propaganda...by the Russians,” calling it all “ridiculous” and no one should think beyond the fact that he expressed his personal disgust at how “people like this shouldn't be ruling countries, but they do.”
Following yet another denial that his rhetoric was cause for escalation in Russia and Ukraine, CBS’s Ed O’Keefe turned to text messages from Justice Clarence Thomas’s wife Ginni about the 2020 election, but refused to do the same despite new revelations about his son Hunter’s life of corruption.
Similarly, O’Keefe ended the press conference by asking whether he viewed GOP questions to Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson were appropriate: “The fact that Republicans were questioning judge Jackson on matters like former sentences related to child pornography cases or the definition of a woman, does that, as the former chairman of the Judiciary Committee, make sense to you?”
Having conceded seconds earlier he hadn’t watched the hearing at all, Biden could only offer a boilerplate answer that she would make “a great addition to the court” as she’s “totally, thoroughly qualified” to be there.
To see the relevant press conference transcript from March 28 (including two softballs from the left on policing via The Washington Post’s Cleve Wootson), click here.