Biden campaign provided a list of approved questions for 2 radio interviews


President Biden’s campaign provided lists of approved questions to two radio hosts who did the first interviews with him after his faltering debate performance, both hosts said on Saturday.

Mr. Biden’s Thursday appearances on Black radio shows in the critical states of Wisconsin and Pennsylvania were his first chances to show he could answer questions and discuss his record after a debate in which the 81-year-old repeatedly struggled to complete sentences and press his case against former President Donald Trump.

Radio host Earl Ingram said Saturday that Mr. Biden’s aides reached out to him directly for his interview that aired Thursday and sent him a list of four questions in advance, about which there was no negotiation.

“They gave me the exact questions to ask,” Ingram, whose “The Earl Ingram Show” is broadcast statewide across 20 Wisconsin outlets, told The Associated Press. “There was no back and forth.”

Biden campaign spokesperson Lauren Hitt told CBS News in a statement Saturday afternoon that “it’s not at all an uncommon practice for interviewees to share topics they would prefer,” calling the questions “relevant to news of the day.”  

“We do not condition interviews on acceptance of these questions, and hosts are always free to ask the questions they think will best inform their listeners,” Hitt said.

A Biden administration official told CBS News that the White House was not involved in any preparation for the two radio interviews and said that providing questions to interviewers is not standard practice for the White House, and the campaign is not planning to do it again going forward.

A source within the campaign reiterated that, telling CBS News that, moving forward, it “will refrain from offering suggested questions.”

While the interviews were meant as part of an effort to restore faith in Mr. Biden’s ability not just to govern over the next four years but to successfully campaign, the revelation instead created questions about whether Biden was capable of performing in ad-hoc, unscripted moments following his debate performance.

Appearing with Ingram earlier on CNN, Andrea Lawful-Sanders — host of “The Source” on WURD in Philadelphia — said that she had received a list of eight questions, from which she approved four.

Mr. Biden argued on Ingram’s show that much more than his own political future was in jeopardy, saying: “The stakes are really high. I know you know this. For democracy, for freedom … our economy, they’re all on the line.”

Ingram asked four questions in his 18-minute interview. He asked if Mr. Biden could “speak to some accomplishments that we may or may not be familiar with about your record, especially here in Wisconsin,” what was at stake for Black voters in the election, what Biden would say to people who believe their vote doesn’t matter, and if he could address his debate performance and a remark Trump made during the debate about people crossing the border and taking what he called “Black jobs.

“I didn’t have a good debate. That’s 90 minutes on stage. Look at what I’ve done in 3.5 years,” Mr. Biden said in answering the last question before speaking for several minutes about Trump, the economy and veterans’ issues.

When asked about the set list of questions, Ingram — who has been in radio for 15 years and said he doesn’t consider himself a journalist — said that the notion of receiving a set list of questions for a guest gave him pause, but also presented a perhaps once-in-a-career opportunity.

“I probably would never have accepted, it but this was an opportunity to talk to the president of the United States,” he said.



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