President Biden and CNN have come under fire for allowing only invited guests to ask questions at his town hall in Baltimore on Thursday night in light of what critics say is Mr. Biden’s reluctance to field direct questions from the media.
“A CNN invitation-only audience with pre-scripted questions is very different from facing the press, which Biden now hasn’t done for 95 days,” tweeted Kelsey Bolar, a senior policy analyst with the conservative Independent Women’s Forum.
A CNN invitation-only audience with pre-scripted questions is very different from facing the press, which Biden now hasn’t done for 95 days. https://t.co/hcZj4AFrhC
— Kelsey Bolar (Harkness) (@kelseybolar) October 19, 2021
Mr. Biden is set to pitch his faltering economic and social agenda directly to voters at the town hall airing exclusively on CNN and hosted by Anderson Cooper.
CNN said earlier this week that the event will feature an “invitation-only audience.” It is not unusual for a presidential town hall to feature pre-selected attendees, and two previous events with Mr. Biden also included invited guests.
Ahead of Mr. Biden’s CNN town hall in Cincinnati in July, the network had reached out to organizations such as labor unions, colleges and business groups asking people to apply to ask questions. All of the attendees to that town hall submitted three potential questions to ask Mr. Biden and the cable news network picked who would ask the questions, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer.
However, as Mr. Biden continues to limit direct access for White House reporters, some pundits and media members are crying foul.
Despite reviving the daily press secretary briefing, the president himself hasn’t held a formal press conference since March 25 and has frequently ended public appearances by walking away and refusing to field reporters’ questions.
Mr. Biden has been less accessible to the press than any other modern president, according to the American Presidency Project at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
The pre-screened guests left some pundits and reporters crying foul.
A Twitter user wondered if the town hall only includes invited guests, “can it still be called a town hall? Shouldn’t it be called a Biden propaganda event?”
If @cnn town hall is only invited guests, how can it still be called a town hall? Shouldn’t it be called Biden friendly propaganda event.
— wayne edson (@wjedson) October 19, 2021
Alex Thompson, a White House reporter for Politico, noted that the number of Mr. Biden’s CNN town halls has exceeded the number of interviews he’s done with news outlets.
“Number of Anderson Cooper town halls as President: 2. Number of sit downs w/ WSJ, NYT or Wapo reporters (not columnists): 0,” Mr. Thompson wrote.
Number of Anderson Cooper town halls as President: 2
Number of sit downs w/ WSJ, NYT, or Wapo reporters (not columnists): 0
— Alex Thompson (@AlexThomp) October 18, 2021
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