Radio hosts say Biden’s campaign aides provided questions before interviews

WASHINGTON — Two radio hosts said Saturday that President Joe Biden’s campaign aides provided questions for them to ask him in recent interviews.

The move, which is not standard journalistic practice, came as the Biden campaign worked on damage control following his widely criticized debate performance.

“The questions were sent to me for approval,” said Andrea Lawful-Sanders, the host of WURD’s “The Source” in Philadelphia, in a CNN interview.

“I got several questions. Eight of them,” she told CNN anchor Victor Blackwell, who noted that the hosts’ questions for the president were similar. “And the four that were chosen were the ones that I approved.”

The other host who interviewed Biden, WAUK’s Earl Ingram, was part of the same CNN panel and did not dispute Lawful-Sanders’ description of how the questions were chosen. He did not provide his own account to CNN, but later told ABC News that he was “given some questions for Biden.”

In the wake of criticism over the revelation that Biden campaign aides provided suggested questions to radio hosts before they interviewed the president this week, a source familiar with the president’s booking operation told NBC News, “While interview hosts have always been free to ask whatever questions they please, moving forward we will refrain from offering suggested questions.”

The source confirmed that “we” referred to both the White House and the Biden campaign.

NBC News has reached out to Civic Media, the platform for Ingram’s show, for confirmation of his comments.

During the interview with Ingram, which aired in full on Thursday, Biden told listeners that he “had a bad night,” adding that he “screwed up, I made a mistake.” The president also contrasted his 90-minute debate performance with his 3.5 years in office.

Biden has participated in several events in the week after the debate, though many of the appearances were guided by his use of a teleprompter, which is often standard for politicians.

The Biden campaign pointed to the president’s press gaggles and ABC News interview in a statement responding to Lawful-Sanders’ comments.Scott Olson / Getty Images

But the debate raised questions about Biden’s ability to think on his feet, and the Biden campaign had pointed to his public appearances, including interviews, in efforts to fend off criticism.

In a statement, Biden campaign spokesperson Lauren Hitt said it is “not at all an uncommon practice for interviewees to share topics they would prefer.” She pointed to Biden participating in a press gaggle and Friday’s ABC News interview, noting, “Americans have had several opportunities to see him unscripted since the debate.”

“We do not condition interviews on acceptance of these questions, and hosts are always free to ask the questions they think will best inform their listeners,” Hitt said.

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