The presidential debate on Sept. 29 may be one of the most-watched debates in political history, if only because everyone wants to see how Joe Biden does.
After a primary campaign debate season that was full of gaffes, Biden was the last man left standing after a process that effectively eliminated everyone but him and Bernie Sanders. When the whole shebang was cut short due to exigencies we’re all familiar with, Biden was left as the victor — but one that looked like he might crumble if he were tested.
Since then, the media hasn’t been particularly eager to test him, nor has the candidate been too eager to test himself.
If you want some idea as to the extent of this, consider that President Donald Trump has taken five times as many questions as Biden has since July.
According to a report in Wednesday’s New York Post, the president has taken 867 more questions than the Democratic nominee, and most of them from a press corps that’s decidedly unfriendly to him.
Trump’s questions: 1,141 between July 19 and Sept. 15. He faced plenty of them this week when he did a town hall with the liberal ABC mouthpiece George Stephanopoulos, once Bill Clinton’s White House communications director and a man who was forced to apologize to his viewers in 2015 for failing to disclose $75,000 in donations he made to the Clinton Foundation.
In other words, the questions were mostly adversarial, particularly pertaining to Washington Post journalist Bob Woodard’s book on the president. Asked about former White House chief of staff John Kelly, former Defense Secretary James Mattis and former National Security Advisor John Bolton — who all had extremely negative takes on the president in the book — Trump said they had an ax to grind.
“These are people that I let go. These are disgruntled former employees, to put it in a nice way,” Trump said, according to Fox News.
“Mattis was a highly overrated general, didn’t do the job, didn’t do good on ISIS. I took over 100 percent of the ISIS caliphate. I had the people that I wanted in. Mattis was fired, as you know, by President Obama. And I fired him also,” Trump said.
Stephanopoulos noted that Mattis said he resigned, but Trump insisted it was a firing.
“If you look at John Bolton … all he wanted to do was blow people up, he wanted to go to war with everybody. And frankly, I used him very nicely. I bring him into a room in a negotiation. When people saw them, they said oh, wow, he’s going to go to war,” Trump continued.
Agree with Trump or not, here’s the point: He was taking those questions. How many town halls is Joe Biden having? How many unrehearsed moments has he been a part of?
Biden’s campaign has actively kept him in the basement, so to speak, and it shows. The Post found that he’d only faced 274 questions between July 19 and Sept. 15.
It’s not only that. Biden’s campaign has actively gone out of its way to avoid any sort of tough questions from media outlets that might not have a love affair with him. When he’s not answering questions from MSNBC and CNN, who want to know just how awesome he is, how awful Trump is and how great the polls are looking. The rest are from local media, not necessarily pros at grilling presidential candidates.
And when Biden does get questions, it’s not as if you’re necessarily hearing Biden answer it on the fly. It’s become clear of late that many of Biden’s answers are being read off of a teleprompter.
For instance, watch this August post-convention interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper and take a look at Biden’s eyes whenever he answers a question:
Joe Biden is clearly reading from a script while struggling to get through this interview with Anderson Cooper pic.twitter.com/PsD7vBLIik
— Tristan Justice (@JusticeTristan) August 27, 2020
He’s not looking off to his left because he’s WhatsApping with Hunter, I’m pretty sure.
Here’s a Q&A where Biden tells his staff to “move it up here” and pauses awkwardly before reading what sounds like a canned monologue as his answer:
Joe Biden is relying on a teleprompter to answer questions: “move it up here,” he tells his staff.
There are long pauses between his words as he waits for the prompter to scroll. pic.twitter.com/zYlMbfd2mA
— Trump War Room – Text TRUMP to 88022 (@TrumpWarRoom) September 7, 2020
If you needed confirmation of the fact that Biden’s using a teleprompter to answer questions, look no further than T.J. Ducklo, spokesman for the Biden campaign. When questioned about the possibility his candidate was using a teleprompter during interviews and Q&As, he responded angrily without actually answering the question:
Bret Baier just asked Biden’s National Press Sec a simple yes or no question:
Has Joe Biden ever used a teleprompter during a TV interview?
TJ Ducklo refused to answer and instead had a meltdown. Disaster of an interview for the Biden campaign. pic.twitter.com/OEyi2eb31L
— Kelb Hull (@CalebJHull) September 10, 2020
Ducklo told Fox News that “this is straight from the Trump campaign’s talking points” and that he wouldn’t “allow the Trump campaign to funnel their questions through Fox News.”
In other words, the answer is yes.
Actually, we didn’t even need Ducklo’s confirmation. Check out the reflection in this framed picture from his interview with James Corden in April:
So here we have Biden caught redhanded using a teleprompter during a tv interview with James Corden. Now we know why his spokesman refused to answer @BretBaier‘s question about this the other day.
Who wants to bet that the media is going to ignore/cover this up to protect Joe? https://t.co/fUvLQ15RjI
— Andrew Surabian (@Surabees) September 12, 2020
There’s a good reason why he doesn’t take as many questions as Trump does. Thankfully, the debate won’t happen in a basement and there’s no teleprompter.
Perhaps we’re all setting the bar too low for Biden, but I for one will have my popcorn ready.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.