White House brushes off press secretary’s radio interview saga

The White House is brushing off criticism after press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre abruptly ended an interview with a North Carolina radio station after one of the hosts asked if President Joe Biden has “dementia”.

Ms Jean-Pierre spoke to the news director at 99.3 WBT Charlotte, Mark Garrison, on Tuesday. Mr Garrison subsequently appeared on The Brett Winterble Show where he shared clips of the interview.

Mr Garrison told the press secretary that several people had asked him to ask her about Mr Biden having “dementia”.

Ms Jean-Pierre said that the question was “incredibly offensive”, adding that “I’m not even going to truly… take the premise of your question. I think it is incredibly insulting… we can move on to the next question”.

Karine Jean-Pierre speaks during a daily news briefing on 25 March


“How does Mr Biden win votes when people don’t have as much disposable income?” Mr Garrison went on to ask, mentioning rising prices for groceries and gas.

“The president understands,” she said. “He grew up in a middle-class, working-class family in Scranton, Pennsylvania. He gets it. He understands how difficult it is for Americans who are sitting around their kitchen table every month trying to figure out what they’re going to pay for. You have to remember when the president walked into this administration, there were multiple crises happening.

“There was Covid-19, the economy was in a tailspin because of the last administration, because of what President Trump left us with,” she argued. “Now you’re asking me about gas prices. The president took action on gas prices. Let’s not forget Russia’s invasion of Ukraine skyrocketed prices of gas.”

“Because the president took action, we see we are in a different place than we were a year ago in gas prices. Eggs, milk, seafood products, all the important groceries, those costs have gone down because of what this president has been able to do,” she added.

Ms Jean-Pierre then went on to end the interview.

“And, and with that, thank you so much, Mark. Have an amazing, amazing day,” she said. A busy phone signal could be heard on the radio show after the press secretary ended the call.

The radio hosts appeared surprised at the way the interview ended.

Mr Winterble went on to tell Mr Garrison: “I am nominating you to get a press corps badge, and you need to go to the White House.”

“I’m sorry, but you asked three, four incredibly salient, important questions that are all front of mind,” he said, according to Fox News Digital. “Nothing out of bounds. No ba-ba-booeying or anything like that, right? And you did it exactly right on. I don’t understand the fragility of this person.”

Mr Garrison said it was the White House who contacted the radio station for the interview, adding, “I was supposed to get more time with her and the fact that, all of a sudden, she decided to just hang up the phone took me by surprise because I had a couple of questions that weren’t as controversial. But I’ll never get to ask them, I guess”.

Fellow radio host Pete Kaliner noted that the full interview was about six minutes long.

White House deputy press secretary Andrew Bates said in a statement to news outlets that “as she often does when the president travels, Karine had multiple back-to-back interviews with radio stations who were each offered 7 minutes. Once the agreed-upon time was over, she called into the next interview so everyone could get their full time”.

“This particular station chose not to air the full interview and instead artificially attached a sound effect that our phones do not make when calls end,” he said.

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