‘Unethical’: Trump Press Secretaries Bash LA Times For Giving White House ‘Questions In Advance’

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Mary Lou Masters Contributor
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Several former press secretaries for President Donald Trump bashed the Los Angeles Times Thursday after one of the publication’s reporters asked President Joe Biden a question that almost exactly mirrored a question on a cheat sheet the president was holding.

Biden was photographed Wednesday holding a cheat sheet bearing the name of Los Angeles Times reporter Courtney Subramanian, along with a question she presumably intended to ask. Subramanian did indeed ask Biden a question in the Wednesday press conference that was strikingly similar to the question on the cheat sheet, sparking backlash from former Trump White House press secretaries, who slammed The Los Angeles Times and the Biden White House for being “unethical.” (RELATED: EDITORIAL BOARD: Here’s Everything The LA Times Got Wrong In Their Hit Piece About Us (Pretty Much All Of It))

“No, that never happened and it’s not something I’d ever ask for or accept. It’s unethical,” former Trump press secretary Stephanie Grisham told the Daily Caller News Foundation when asked if she was ever presented with a reporter’s question in advance.

Sean Spicer, another former Trump press secretary, also said he didn’t receive any publication’s questions in advance.

“Sean was never given the questions [sic] from the LA Times or any other outlet,” Katie Armstrong, spokesperson for Spicer, told the DCNF.

Spicer took to Twitter to echo his spokesperson’s sentiment.

“Since I never got the questions in advance I’m curious how this went down,” Spicer said in a tweet. “Did [Courtney Subramanian] of [LA Times] voluntarily let [Biden] know what she would ask or did [Karine Jean-Pierre] ask it or make it a condition of getting an answer[?]”

Kayleigh McEnany, another former Trump press secretary, addressed the situation on Fox News’ Outnumbered on Thursday, and said while she did “occasionally” receive notification of a topic, she was never handed a specific question from a reporter.

“I can tell you I never had that level of detail to provide to President Trump from a legacy, print media outlet like this one,” McEnany said. “The idea that a reporter from the LA Times would give this, it really is something.”

McEnany said members of the “lower press” staff under her, who were responsible for the day-to-day correspondence with reporters, would do research and check reporters’ Twitter accounts to gauge what kind of questions they might ask. Sometimes they would notify McEnany of this, though she said they did not provide specific questions from reporters.

“It was putting in the work, not getting a head start, as it seems to be in this case,” she said.

Biden’s cheat sheet card included a profile of Subramanian with a photo and description, as well as a note for the president, “Question #1.”

“How are YOU squaring YOUR domestic priorities — like reshoring semiconductors manufacturing — with alliance-based foreign policy?” the card read.

The question posed by Subramanian, who Biden called on first per the card’s direction, was very similar to what appeared on the cheat sheet.

“Your top economic priority has been to build up U.S. domestic manufacturing in competition with China, but your rules against expanding chip manufacturing in China is hurting South Korean companies that rely heavily on Beijing,” Subramanian asked. “Are you damaging a key ally in the competition with China to help your domestic politics ahead of the election?”

US President Joe Biden holds his notes while answering a question during a press conference in the Rose Garden of the White House after a meeting with South Korea’s President Yoon Suk Yeol April 26, 2023, in Washington, DC.

The Los Angeles Times denied providing the question to the White House in advance in response to the DCNF’s inquiry.

“Our reporter did not submit any questions in advance of the Q&A with President Biden,” Hillary Manning, spokesperson for the Times, told the DCNF in a statement. “Courtney Subramanian covers the White House for the Los Angeles Times. As such, she is in regular contact with the White House press office seeking information for her reporting. You would have to ask the White House who prepared the document for the president and why they included that question.”

“To clarify, our reporter had indicated that semiconductors was one of several topics she was interested in covering, especially in light of South Korean President Yoon Suk-Yeol’s visit to the White House,” Manning added. “But we do not know who prepared the document for the president and why they included that question.”

Biden’s press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, was asked Thursday to explain how Subramanian’s question appeared on the president’s cheat sheet, and denied receiving questions beforehand.

“It is completely normal for a president to be briefed on reporters who will be asking questions at a press conference and issues that we expect they might ask about,” said Pierre. “We do not have specific questions in advance, that’s not something that we do, and in fact, I would point out that the question that was asked was different than what was on the card.”

Subramanian did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.

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