Did CNN go soft on Joe Biden at town hall? Kayleigh McEnany asks 'how did he get away with false vaccine claim?'

Host Anderson Cooper asked Biden questions like how it is to live in the White House and did not counter him over his claim that there was no vaccine when he took over


                            Did CNN go soft on Joe Biden at town hall? Kayleigh McEnany asks 'how did he get away with false vaccine claim?'
President Joe Biden and journalist Anderson Cooper (Getty Images)

CNN has faced criticism over its town hall with President Joe Biden conducted in Milwaukee on Tuesday (February 16) night as observers felt the network dealt with him leniently. For instance, host Anderson Cooper did not hold the Democrat responsible when he claimed that there was no vaccine when he took office last month but asked him soft questions like what it was like to live in the White House. 

Social media users vented their frustration accusing Cooper of not asking the president hard questions with one calling the 75-minute affair a “total dumpster fire with Biden gaffes, lies, racism and overall awkwardness”. The critics also said that the conversation was a one-way traffic with the president facing almost no interruption from Cooper while answering his questions. They also said that there was minimal follow-up over his responses. It was also alleged that none of the members from the audience who were called on to put questions before Biden were Republicans. 

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'How does Joe get away with this,' asks McEnany

One among the critics on Twitter who slammed Biden and the network on his claim over the vaccine was former White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany. In her post, she asked: “Biden says there was no vaccine when he came into office. That is abjectly FALSE. President Trump brought about the fastest vaccine for a novel pathogen in history. How does Joe get away with this?”



 

In her tweet, McEnany attached the video of Biden saying at the town hall: “When you and I talked last, we talked about - it’s one thing to have the vaccine, which we didn’t have when we came into office, but a vaccinator - how do you get the vaccine into someone’s arm? So you need the paraphernalia. You need the needle, and you need mechanisms to be able to get it in. You have to have people who can inject it into people’s arms.”

It was only a few minutes ago that Biden said in the same town hall that 50 million doses were available when he took over on January 20. Some of the critics on Twitter said it was a verbal stumble, something Biden is known for making in public. Cooper, too, was criticized for not following up on the president’s statement and only saying: “That’s been one of the problems is just getting enough people.”

Journalist Joe Concha also slammed the president, tweeting: “Biden claims during CNN Town Hall there was no vaccine when he came into office. First shots were administered in mid-December. This isn’t a semantical thing or the president misspeaking. It’s a straight up lie on a very important point.” In a succeeding tweet, he posted a picture of Biden getting inoculated in December, almost a month before his inauguration and said: “Here’s Biden getting the vaccine he claimed didn’t exist before he took office. Pretty easy one to fact-check…”



 



 

Joe Biden, the then president-elect, receives COVID-19 vaccination from nurse practitioner Tabe Mase at ChristianaCare Christiana Hospital on December 21, 2020, in Newark, Delaware. (Getty Images)

Josh Jordan also targeted Biden’s “no vaccine” remark to say in a tweet: “Considering Biden received both doses of the COVID vaccine before being sworn in, this seems like a very obvious lie. Both Biden and Harris have made some ridiculous statements about the vaccine in recent days.” Steve Guest, a communications advisor to Senator Ted Cruz said it was a “massive lie” from President Biden that there was no vaccine when he took office.



 



 

According to the critics, Biden was asked no question over the accusations against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo over the nursing home deaths related to Covid-19 even though much of the town hall was dedicated to the pandemic and the Biden administration’s response to it. Neither was the president asked any question over the resignation of White House Deputy Press Secretary TJ Ducklo following revelations that he threatened to “destroy” a reporter who was pursuing a story featuring his relationship with another journalist. 

CNN tightrope-walks on Biden's vaccine claims

However, CNN came up with its own fact-checking report on the town hall in which it cited that the president made at least four false claims and one of them was about the Covid-19 vaccine. The other three included -- minimum wage, undocumented immigrants and China’s economy. But despite pointing out the gaffes, CNN also sought to defend Biden over his vaccine claims. 

CNN reported: “Biden got at least one of these statistics wrong -- in a way that made Trump look better, not worse, so Biden’s inaccuracy appeared accidental, but we're noting it anyway. A White House official said that Biden's claim about “10 million doses a day” being available when he took office was meant to be a reference to the 10 million doses a week that were being sent to states as of the second week of Biden's term, up from 8.6 million a week when they took over.

Former president Donald Trump (Getty Images)

“The official said Biden's claim about “50 million doses” being available when he took office was a reference to the number of doses that had been distributed to states as of the end of January. That was less than two weeks into his term, but he could have been clearer on the time frame.

“Biden’s more dramatic claim here, that there was "nothing in the refrigerator" when he took office, has a solid factual basis, though Biden could again have been clearer about what he meant. The official said this was a reference to the fact that, as reported by the Washington Post in the week before Biden's inauguration, there was no federal reserve of second doses available at the time. The Trump administration confirmed to the Post for a January 15 article that the contents of the stockpile had been released to states; then-Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said the doses in the reserve could be shipped out “because we now have a consistent pace of production.” (It's worth noting that Biden's own transition team itself called for the release of second doses from the reserve.)”

“It's also generally true that there were serious problems with vaccine supply just before Biden's inauguration. Some states said that they had not been sent enough doses or that they faced major logistical issues in getting doses to residents.

“Some of Biden's Republican critics have focused on his claim that "we didn't have" the vaccine when we came into office -- suggesting that Biden was denying that a Covid-19 vaccine existed at all under President Donald Trump. Given the other comments Biden had just made, we think it's clear in context that this was not his actual meaning.”

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