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Biden’s press conference strategy could be a primer on media management for leaders

NEW YORK, June 27 (Audio) — Speculation has swirled over the two-questioner limit for US President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s press conferences, but US leaders have a track record of carefully managing press conferences and preselecting questioners.

His method could be a primer for other leaders on how to hold press conferences while controlling how the message is delivered.

At least two journalists were allowed to ask questions during Modi’s visit last week.

During his last visit in 2021, Modi did not allow any questions during joint attendance, in fact telling the prime minister, “I don’t think they could have answered the questions with permission because they don’t ask the right questions.”

Contrasting journalists from both countries, he said: The Indian press is much better behaved than the American press. I have to be careful…”

These remarks, which may have been meant to be private, were caught on a hot mic.

When Biden and Modi appeared in the White House East Room on June 22, the president faced potentially awkward questions about his son Hunter Biden’s business dealings, which were telecast by Republicans on a House panel that day.

In one of the transcripts of a WhatsApp message to a Chinese businessman released by the commission, Hunter Biden threatened him over money troubles and claimed to be with his father, saying, “I’m sitting here waiting for my father to call me.”

This seems to suggest the president claims not to be involved in his son’s questionable business dealings.

For the record, Hunter Biden also said: “Between the man sitting next to me and all his acquaintances, and my ability to hold grudges forever, you will regret not following my instructions.”

The president probably wanted to avoid asking questions about his son, so limiting who could ask questions would be to his advantage.

Encounters with journalists are often scripted, as his reps try to put up guardrails against even his gaffes.

His staff decides who will ask him questions, provides him with a cue card with a photo of the reporter (so he can recognize and call the journalist), the topic of the question and the answer to it.

The bet was exposed in April when Indian-American reporter Courtney Subramanian’s cue card was accidentally pointed at the camera, making it visible to everyone.

So he and friendly media can carefully manipulate interactions while appearing open to contact with journalists.

(The Los Angeles Times denied collusion with the White House.)

Biden also has a history of publicly furious at reporters who break the media’s sanitary cordon and ask questions they don’t like.

He cursed a Fox News correspondent, saying, “What a stupid son.”

“If you don’t understand that, you’re doing the wrong job,” he said to a CNN reporter who kept asking questions.

“What are you doing all the time?” he asked her.

After reading a statement prepared by Modi and Biden at the White House on June 22, the president said, “I hear there are two questioners: Sabrina (Siddiqui) of The Wall Street Journal and (Rakesh) Kumar of the India (Reporting) Trust.”

Siddiqi asked about criticism from some within the Biden Party about the treatment of religious minorities and “cracking down on dissent.”


“It’s embedded in America’s DNA, and I’m India’s DNA, that the whole world has a stake in the success of preserving our democracies,” Biden said.

He said the two had “a lot of conversations about democratic values”, adding that “we are open to each other and respect each other”.

Siddiqi then asked Modi, “What steps will you and your government take to improve the rights of Muslims and other minorities in your country and protect free speech?”

Modi, speaking in Hindi, echoed Biden’s remarks about the democratic DNA of both countries.

“Our ancestors put this concept of democracy into action, and it has become the shape of our constitution.

“We have always proved that democracy can be achieved. ”

And in answering Mr. Siddiqi’s question about calling Chinese President Xi Jinping a “dictator,” Mr. Biden appeared to confuse India with China, but he was quick to correct, saying, “I’m not going to change my mind much about choosing or avoiding saying what I believe to be true about our relationship with India, our relationship with China.”

Kumar posed a gentle question about Biden and Modi’s favorite subjects, the environment and climate change. Biden’s press conference strategy could be a primer on media management for leaders

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