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Thursday, June 20, 2024

White House And ‘Morning Joe’ Blast Wall Street Journal Report That Joe Biden “Shows Signs Of Slipping”

The Wall Street Journal has come under extensive criticism from the White House for a report on Joe Biden‘s mental acuity, with spokespersons blasting the story for featuring just one on-the-record Republican source, former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, to claim that the president is slipping.

On Wednesday morning, Morning Joe added to the chorus, with Joe Scarborough calling it a “Trump hit piece.”

In the piece, McCarthy said, “I used to meet with him when he was vice president. I’d go to his house. He’s not the same person.”

In the piece, McCarthy described speaking to Biden during debt ceiling negotiations in May of last year. McCarthy said that the president was sharp on the phone one day, but the next day, in an in-person meeting, the president “was going back to all the old stuff that had been done for a long time.”

The Journal also reported that more recently, in a meeting on Ukraine funding in January, Biden “spoke so softly at times that some participants struggled to hear him,” and read from notes “to make obvious points,  paused for extended periods and sometimes closed his eyes for so long that some in the room wondered whether he had tuned out.”

Scarborough challenged the account, noting other reporting that McCarthy had told allies that he had found Biden “to be mentally sharp in meetings.” Scarborough noted that after the May in-person meeting at the White House, McCarthy was publicly praiseworthy of the progress made, calling it “better than any other time we’ve had discussions.”

“I have repeatedly stated on air that I am an avid reader and cheerleader for the WSJ,” Scarborough wrote on X/Twitter. “That is what makes this false, biased story so disappointing. It is underminded immediately by the massive weight on on-the-record contradictions.”

The White House also pushed back against the piece shortly after it was posted on Wednesday evening. Ben LaBolt, the White House communications director, wrote on X/Twitter that the piece was an “utter editorial fail.”

LaBolt wrote, “What a surprise – Republicans employing their election year messaging strategy that contradicts their own prior words about @POTUS. Gambling in Casablanca!”

The story, from Annie Linskey and Siobhan Hughes, is a bit more equivocal than the headline: “Behind Closed Doors, Biden Shows Signs Of Slipping.” The piece includes White House responses, as well as on-the-record counter points from figures such as House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY). The story also noted that questions also have been raised about Donald Trump‘s mental acuity, noting, among other instances, a speech in which he mistook Nikki Haley for Nancy Pelosi.

But Pelosi was among the lawmakers who complained that they spent time with the Journal to offer their accounts, but instead the publication “ignored testimony by Democrats, focused on attacks by Republicans and printed a hit piece.”

The Journal piece noted that it was based on interviews with more than 45 people over several months. “The interviews were with Republicans and Democrats who either participated in meetings with Biden or were briefed on them contemporaneously, including administration officials and other Democrats who found no fault in the president’s handling of the meetings,” according to the story. “Most of those who said Biden performed poorly were Republicans, but some Democrats said that he showed his age in several of the exchanges.”

A spokesperson for the publication said, “The Journal stands by its reporting.”

Polls have shown that voters have significant concerns about Biden’s age, and to a lesser extent, of Trump’s. At 81, Biden is the oldest president, even though Trump, 77, is not too much younger.

Biden arrived in Paris today, part of a trip that includes as speech at Normandy on Thursday to mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day.

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