An official White House livestream of President Joe Biden’s remarks was abruptly cut off mid-sentence on Monday — just days after a report revealed that some White House staffers have stopped listening to him speak in public for fear he’ll veer wildly off-message.
Biden was meeting with officials in Boise, Idaho, to discuss the wildfires raging across the western United States when he turned his attention to George Geissler of the National Association of State Foresters.
“Can I ask you a question?” Biden asked.
“Of course,” Geissler answered.
“One of the things that I’ve been working on with some others is —” Biden said before the audio and video coverage stopped without warning.
The livestream — which also included translation by an American Sign Language interpreter — was then replaced by a message that said “THANK YOU FOR JOINING,” according to a clip posted on Twitter by the research arm of the Republican National Committee.
The incident marked the latest example of the White House cutting short its online coverage of Biden, 78, who’s publicly admitted being a “gaffe machine” throughout his long political career.
Official livestreams of the president were interrupted last month, as he was about to answer a reporter’s question on his decision to withdraw the US military from Afghanistan, and in March, when he said he’d be “happy to take questions” during a virtual meeting with Democratic lawmakers, according to Fox News.
Last week, Politico reported that “many” people who work in the White House will either mute Biden or turn off live coverage of his public appearances because they’re worried he’ll take questions from reporters.
“I know people who habitually don’t watch it live for that reason,” one unidentified official reportedly said.
Biden — who has a habit of responding, sometimes angrily, to shouted questions following his public appearances — has repeatedly acknowledged that his aides have told him to stick to his prepared remarks.
“I’m not supposed to be answering all these questions,” he told reporters during a White House news conference about the coronavirus in May.
Last week, he even worked the instruction into a post-Labor Day speech honoring labor unions.
“Now, I’m supposed to stop and walk out of the room here,” he said to laughter, according to an official transcript.
“I’m going to stop. But with your permission, I’m going to walk into the room because I want to say hello to all of you.”
In May, White House press secretary Jen Psaki admitted during a podcast interview that letting Biden field queries from reporters was “not something we recommend,” adding, “In fact, a lot of times we say, ‘Don’t take questions.”
But, she added, “He’s going to do what he wants to do because he’s the president of the United States.”