White House Briefing Devolves Into Shouting Over Questions About Biden’s Health

The White House briefing room devolved into shouting on Monday as the press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, repeatedly dodged and refused to answer questions about the president’s health, and whether visits to the White House by a Parkinson’s doctor were about the president.

Dr. Kevin Cannard, a neurologist at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center who specializes in movement disorders, visited the White House eight times in eight months, according to official visitor logs.

But at Monday’s daily briefing, Ms. Jean-Pierre refused to talk about Dr. Cannard or to acknowledge his visits to the White House, even after The New York Times and other news organizations reported on the logs. She cited unexplained “security reasons” and at other times said that the doctor deserved a “measure of privacy,” even though the White House had already released his name and made the visits public.

Several reporters in the briefing room accused Ms. Jean-Pierre of withholding important information about the president’s health. The White House has been under growing criticism from fellow Democrats as well as the news media for not being more forthcoming about Mr. Biden’s physical and mental state.

“You’re not answering a very basic, direct question,” Ed O’Keefe, the White House correspondent for CBS News, shouted.

“I am telling you he has seen a neurologist three times,” Ms. Jean-Pierre insisted. “That is what I’m sharing with you. So, every time he has a physical, he has had to see a neurologist. So that is answering that question.”

“No, it’s not,” Mr. O’Keefe responded.

“No, it is. It is,” Ms. Jean-Pierre said as the two talked over each other.

“Did Dr. Kevin Cannard come to the White House specifically because of the president’s condition?” Mr. O’Keefe persisted.

“I also said to you for security reasons, we cannot share names. We cannot share names,” said Ms. Jean-Pierre, clearly shaken, “We cannot share names of specialists broadly, from a dermatologist to a neurologist.”

“We’re miffed around here about how information has been shared with the press corps about him,” Mr. O’Keefe said, clearly angry.

“Every time, I come back and answer the questions that you guys asked,” Ms. Jean-Pierre said, prompting Mr. O’Keefe to respond: “And you answer it incorrectly and have to come back here and clean it up.”

A few minutes after the exchange, Ms. Jean-Pierre told the reporters in the room that she took offense at the way she was being questioned.

“We do our best to give you the information that we have at the time, that’s what we do,” she said, calling the questioning “really, really unfair” to her. “I do take offense to what was just happening at the beginning of this briefing. It’s not OK.”

Moments later, she added that “the personal attacks” were “not OK. I just want to be very, very clear here.”

The relationship between Ms. Jean-Pierre and reporters has often been rocky. But the mood in the briefing room has been more tense in recent days as the president fights for his political life after his politically disastrous debate on June 27.

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