NBC Hack Admits: Team Biden Saw Us as ‘Known Quantities’ Who’d Skip Hard Questions

MRCTV’s Eric Scheiner caught this fascinating video.

On Tuesday afternoon, Politico chief Washington correspondent  Ryan Lizza hosted a panel discussion sponsored by the Meridian International Center on the topic “Reporting on the Biden White House: A Lookahead to Day 100.”  Near the end, Lizza asked NBC White House reporter Geoff Bennett about how the current COVID restrictions may lead to “more permanent changes” in the way the White House deals with the press. 

Bennett underlined how the COVID restrictions enabled the Biden transition (and the campaign as well, we’d say) to limit their press questions to a bare and comfortable minimum. Just listen to how it slips out of Bennett’s mouth.

 

“The COVID restrictions allowed the Biden team to really limit the reporters who were brought into those press conferences in that theater in Wilmington. And then beyond that, they were able to select the folks who got to ask questions of then-President-elect Biden,” Bennett said, and then he lamely said they were just doing their job.

“They had a message they wanted to get forward, and they were trying to protect their principal. They didn’t know the questions we were gonna ask, but they certainly knew who we were, all the reporters were known quantities. So there was no chance that they were gonna call on, you know, some local reporter from some unnamed newspaper who was gonna ask Joe Biden a potentially difficult or uncomfortable question.” 

In other words, they know NBC and the rest wouldn’t ask about difficult subjects like Hunter Biden’s behavior, or Tara Reade’s rape allegations. Bennett is admitting they were basically softball-tossers who wouldn’t get in the way of the “message they wanted to get forward.”

Let’s give him credit for knowing how soft he was. On November 16, Bennett asked Biden “What do you see is the biggest threat to your transition right now given President Trump’s unprecedented attempt to obstruct and delay a smooth transfer of power?”

On November 10, NBC’s Mike Memoli (who was a reliable soft touch during the campaign) asked “I wonder if you have a message for the President, who may well be watching right now, and how do you expect to be able to work with Republicans when so many have thus far refused to even acknowledge your victory?”

On November 19, NBC’s Kristen Welker also asked a Trump-bashing question: “You have said that lives could be lost if you don’t start getting briefings from the Trump administration and now here we are, more than 250,000 lives could be lost. Given that, how do you justify not taking legal action to get the briefings that you say are critical, that you say you need?”

NBC certainly was a cuddly “known quantity” for the Biden team.

A fuller transcript is below: 

RYAN LIZZA: Geoff, are you concerned about COVID restrictions that are reasonable during COVID leading to more permanent changes in the way that the White House allows us to cover them?

GEOFF BENNETT: Yeah, in addition to the sort of spacing and access issues, we also have this issue now where the White House is making outlets pay for the costs of the COVID tests. So before I can ever cross the threshhold of the security gate, I have to get a [daily] COVID test that costs somewhere in the $180 range. NBC pays that for all the people who work for NBC [on site]. But there’s some outlets, who, you know, that probably couldn’t — smaller outlets and certainly freelancers — who would have to assume that cost on their own. So that is, in its own way, prohibitive.

But I think one of the things that people didn’t get a good enough sense of, and this was certainly the case during the transition, was that the COVID restrictions allowed the Biden team to really limit the reporters who were brought into those press conferences in that theater in Wilmington. And then beyond that, they were able to select the folks who got to ask questions of then-President-elect Biden. That’s not to say — and frankly, by doing that, the White House comms — now the White House comms, but then the Biden comms team, they were basically doing their job, right? They had a message they wanted to get forward, and they were trying to protect their principal.

They didn’t know the questions we were gonna ask, but they certainly knew who we were, all the reporters were known quantities. So there was no chance that they were gonna call on, you know, some local reporter from some unnamed newspaper who was gonna ask Joe Biden a potentially difficult or uncomfortable question. 

And so I think, you know, that’s something I think we should be very aware of, when these COVID restrictions start to lift, and more people get vaccinated, is, to your point, does the White House still sort of have, sort of the pre-existing footing, and the pre-existing sort of approach, when frankly, at some point soon, hopefully, you’ll be able to fill a Rose Garden and have potentially, you know dozens upon dozens of reporters ask questions, and ask follow-ups of the president. 

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