President Biden is known to use detailed cheat sheets when speaking to the media; however, the president’s team appears to have taken things up a notch after he revealed a pre-written question from a reporter during the press conference on Wednesday.
The president spoke alongside Yoon Suk Yeol, President of South Korea, in the White House Rose Garden. A photographer captured a small cheat sheet in Biden’s hand during the event. The paper signaled he had advance notice of a question from a Los Angeles Times journalist, Courtney Subramanian. The small paper additionally included a picture of the reporter and a breakdown of the pronunciation of her last name. “Question 1” was noted in handwriting at the top of the sheet and indicated he should call on her first after he concluded his remarks.
“How are YOU squaring YOUR domestic priorities — like reshoring semiconductors manufacturing — with alliance-based foreign policy?” read the question on the cheat sheet in the president’s hand.
President Biden called on the reporter first but omitted her last name. She asked Biden, “Your top economic priority has been to build up U.S. domestic manufacturing in competition with China, but your rules against expanding chip manufacturing in China is hurting South Korean companies that rely heavily on Beijing. Are you damaging a key ally in the competition with China to help your domestic policies ahead of the election?”
On a separate paper in the president’s hand, the names of administration officials were revealed, as well as the order of their remarks. Both papers were dated April 26, 2023.
Frequent use of cheat sheets fuel concern about Biden’s mental acuity
The president has frequently come under fire for relying on extensive cheat sheets in the past. Critics say it indicates the White House has lost confidence in the 80-year-old commander-in-chief as concerns about his mental acuity continue to grow.
Biden displayed a list of prepared answers in March 2022 during a White House news briefing after a comment about Russian President Vladimir Putin when he said, “This man cannot remain in power,” raising questions about this support for regime change in Russia.
Reporters captured a cheat sheet in June at a White House meeting with cabinet members detailing specific instructions for President Biden.
“YOU enter the Roosevelt Room and say hello to participants,” read the first bullet point. “YOU take YOUR seat.”
After one bullet point that read, “Press enters,” the following one read, “YOU give brief comments,” with a statement in parentheses reading, “2 minutes.” The final bullet point said, “YOU thank participants,” and YOU depart.” The president ended up speaking for about eight minutes.
Just a month later, the president accidentally revealed a note penned by an aide to the camera that told the president there was “something” on his chin.
President Biden has embraced using a predetermined list of reporters his staff selected early in his presidency instead of calling on them spontaneously during press exchanges.