Op-ed views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author.
There are so many things wrong with a New York Times story claiming why the White House wants to avoid President Biden holding a joint news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin it’s hard to know where to begin.
First, the reason. According to Times White House correspondent Michael Shear, the Biden administration wants “to deny the Russian leader an international platform like the one he received during a 2018 summit in Helsinki, Finland, with President Donald J. Trump.”
But it gets even better. Shear goes on to suggest that Biden’s staff is concerned about a joint appearance because Putin “seemed to get the better of Mr. Trump in Helsinki.”
“Top aides to Mr. Biden said that during negotiations over the meetings, to be held at an 18th-century Swiss villa on the shores of Lake Geneva, the Russian government was eager to have Mr. Putin join Mr. Biden in a news conference,” he reported. “But Biden administration officials said that they were mindful of how Mr. Putin seemed to get the better of Mr. Trump in Helsinki.”
The glaring weakness in such an argument is that the reporter appears to admit that Biden is weaker, or at best, as weak as Trump, who was demonized for the entirety of his time in office by Shear’s media colleagues, who insisted he could do nothing right.
This being the same media that all but elected Biden to office, although they have no confidence now that he can hold his own with Putin. The fact that the inane excuse is rolled out ahead of Wednesday’s planned meeting between the leaders can’t be taken on its own, given the ever-present concerns about Biden’s mental acuity that surfaced again over the weekend at the G7 Summit. It’s safe to suggest that the White House’s greatest fear here is an unscripted President Biden.
Not only was the media aghast over Trump having private discussions with Putin in Helsinki, as if the president of the United States could not be trusted — name another president condemned for something as simple as that — but a subsequent joint news conference was portrayed as Trump bowing to his Russian counterpart.
At issue was Trump’s reaction to being asked if he believed U.S. intelligence agencies on reports that Russia had meddled in the 2016 election.
“President Putin says it’s not Russia. I don’t see any reason why it would be,” Trump replied.
The political class from both sides of the aisle lost their minds, including then-House Speaker Paul Ryan and the late Sen. John McCain, as did Trump-hating members of the media.
Matt Drudge, who is decidedly anti-Trump, ran a massive headline that read: “Putin Dominates Trump in Helsinki.” The Drudge Report is but an afterthought today.
Of course, this was a media-generated storyline that had little to do with facts, but the former president would later issue a statement to clean up his remarks.
“I have full faith and support for America’s great intelligence agencies. Always have,” he said. “And I have felt very strongly that while Russia’s actions had no impact at all on the outcome of the election, let me be totally clear in saying that, and I’ve said this many times, I accept our intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election took place.”
But then, Trump was still learning at the time the actual extent to which the U.S. intelligence apparatus had been maneuvering against him, both before being elected to office and after.
One thing we can be confident about is that Biden’s handlers won’t dare leave him in a room alone with Putin on Wednesday.
Interestingly, Biden was asked Monday about having called Putin a “killer,” and if he still believes that.
Not only did Biden appear to suffer from an awkward ‘brain freeze’ in response to the question, but he would also gush praise for Putin.
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