Biden’s way of running news conferences could be primer for leaders on managing media

New York: While speculation swirls around the two-questioner limit at the press encounter of US President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the American leader has a record of carefully managing news conferences and picking in advance who asks him questions.

His method could be a primer for other leaders on how to hold news conferences while controlling how the messaging.

At least during Modi’s visit last week he allowed two reporters to ask questions.

During Modi’s last visit in 2021, he didn’t allow any questions at their joint appearance and, in fact, told the Prime Minister: “I think, with your permission, we could not answer questions because they won’t ask any questions on point.”

And contrasting the journalists from the two countries, he said: “I think what we’re going to do is bring in the press. The Indian press is much better behaved than the American press. I have to watch out…”

Those remarks, which he may have meant to be private, were caught on a hot microphone.

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On June 22 as Biden and Modi appeared at the White House East Room, the President faced the prospects of awkward questions about his son Hunter Biden’s business dealings, which were being aired that day by Republicans on a House of Representatives panel.

In one of the transcripts of WhatsApp messages to a Chinese businessman, released by the committee, Hunter Biden made threats over a money dispute asserting that he was with his father and said, “I am sitting here waiting for the call with my father”.

That appeared to implicate the President who has maintained he was not involved in his son’s questionable business dealings.

Hunter Biden, according to the transcript, also said: “I will make certain that between the man sitting next to me and every person he knows and my ability to forever hold a grudge that you will regret not following my direction.”

The President likely would have wanted to avoid questions about his son and, therefore, limiting questioners would be to his advantage.

His handlers try to put guardrails also against his gaffes making his encounters with journalists often appear scripted.(IANS)

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