WASHINGTON, June 30 (AP) President Joe Biden, who rarely does online interviews, sat in the MSNBC studio just as the Supreme Court just overturned the law on college admissions and employment. Use affirmative action. Consequences of the Russian Rebellion.
These issues were discussed in a nearly 20-minute conversation on Thursday. But it also veered heavily into topics such as criticism of the media and light-hearted discussions of the late Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, a friend of Biden’s.
When Donald Trump was president, he was criticized for his sympathetic media interviews, whose questions were often benign, even obsequious. Meanwhile, Biden has given far fewer formal interviews than his predecessors. His last web interview was in early May, also on MSNBC.
This time, the interviewer, Nicolle Wallace, was White House communications director under President George W Bush and worked on McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign. She began by noting how unusual it was for a sitting president to appear in the web studio.
“The President of the United States is here. Really. At the dinner table,” Wallace began, before telling Biden, “It’s very exciting for us.” Biden replied, “It’s very exciting for me.” People are excited.”
The president said the Supreme Court “has done more to articulate fundamental rights and fundamental judgments than any court in recent history,” pointing to its decisions Thursday on affirmative action and last summer’s strikedown on the constitutional right to abortion.
“I just think it’s at odds with the basic value system of the American people,” Biden said.
He said he does not support the idea of expanding the number of Supreme Court justices, as some progressives have urged him to do.
He also spoke about his re-election campaign, acknowledging that “I know the polls are not good.” He noted that many polls had shown he would not win the 2020 Democratic presidential primary or beat Trump in that year’s general election. Trump, and those polls do not suggest that the Democrats will perform stronger than expected in last year’s midterm elections.
The president then spoke at length about the media, saying, “This isn’t a criticism of the media. It’s an observation. There are a lot of things to worry about around the world and they tell me I’m going to be careful what I say here when I’m talking to a lot of reporters. If so, many journalists say that there are no more editors, what are they going to do? Do it.”
“Well,” Wallace replied, Biden continued after some reporters told him they were under pressure to build their personal brands, concluding, “I just think a lot has changed.”
Wallace asked about the Russian insurgency and what the United States knew about it. Biden responded, “We knew things ahead of time,” but said he couldn’t say anything. Wallace then asked: “Are you worried Trump might tip him off if he’s still president?” She was apparently asking if Trump would warn Russian President Vladimir Putin plans of a mercenary leader to rebel against the Russian military leadership.
“Oh, God,” Biden said. “I don’t know. I don’t think about it very often.”
The president talked more about Russia’s war in Ukraine. Wallace eventually mentioned McCain and asked, “What do you think he’s going to think about his Republican Party?”
“I don’t think he thinks much about it,” Biden said, but was quick to add, “I don’t know that.”
Wallace concluded by again pointing out the rarity of Biden’s studio appearances, adding, “Think of it as your chairman. Take it as an open invitation. People will think of a lot of things, and I hope you look at this As a place where you can talk about any idea.”
“Well, I will,” Biden said.
MSNBC subsequently declined to comment on the interview.
Later Thursday, Biden attended a fundraiser in New York to raise money for his re-election campaign. But the visit to New York, home of MSNBC’s studios, was an official visit, meaning taxpayers funded at least part of it.
“It’s been a hybrid trip, official and political,” White House press secretary Karin Jean-Pierre told reporters aboard Air Force One bound for New York.
Asked what the official part of the trip was, Jean-Pierre replied: “You guys always criticize the president for not doing enough interviews, right?”
“He was going to New York, and we took that opportunity to get into the studio,” Jean-Pierre said. “This is the first time he’s been interviewed in the studio.” (AP)
(This is an unedited and auto-generated story from a syndicated news feed, the latest staff may not have revised or edited the body of content)