Radio station parts ways with host who interviewed Biden with questions from his aides

  • July 8, 2024
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The head of a Philadelphia radio station said Sunday it has parted ways with a host who acknowledged that she interviewed President Biden with questions submitted by his campaign, going against the station’s practice and those of most news outlets.

“On July 3, the first post-debate interview with President Joe Biden was arranged and negotiated independently by WURD radio host Andrea Lawful-Sanders without knowledge, consultation or collaboration with WURD management,” Sara M. Lomax, president and CEO of WURD Radio said in a statement.

“The interview featured pre-determined questions provided by the White House, which violates our practice of remaining an independent media outlet accountable to our listeners. As a result, Ms. Lawful-Sanders and WURD Radio mutually agreed to part ways, effective immediately.”

Lomax described the station as Philadelphia’s only independently owned Black talk radio station. She said such a move violated the trust the station has developed with its audience over the last two decades, and “is not a practice that WURD Radio engages in or endorses as a matter of practice or official policy.”

She added: “WURD Radio is not a mouthpiece for the Biden or any other Administration,” and that “we will commit to reviewing our policies, procedures, and practices to reinforce WURD’s independence and trust with our listeners. But mainstream media should do its own introspection to explore how they have lost the trust of so many Americans, Black Americans chief among them.”

In a one-minute video posted on Facebook on Sunday, Lawful-Sanders said, “effective immediately I am no longer an on-air host at WURD. I tendered my resignation yesterday. It was accepted.”

She then thanked “all of you who played a part in this journey, including WURD Radio.” She went on to say that she is “grateful,” and that “Life is moving. Things are shifting and changing. And, in a day or so you’ll hear more.”

Lawful-Sanders’s interview was one of two Biden recorded last week after his June 27 debate against the 78-year-old presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump. During the debate, Biden, 81 appeared at times tired, confused and incoherent, touching off calls from a growing number of Democrats to question whether he should continue running.

After the debate, the White House press secretary announced that Biden had recorded two radio interviews, one with Lawful-Sanders on WURD and the other with Earl Ingram, whose show is broadcast across Wisconsin.

On Saturday, Lawful-Sanders and Ingram appeared on CNN, where a host said both interviews with Biden featured very similar questions. “Were those questions given to you by the White House, or the campaign, or did you have to submit questions ahead of this interview?” CNN host Victor Blackwell asked Lawful-Sanders.

“The questions were sent to me for approval. I approved of them,” she said. Ingram was not asked about his questions during an appearance on CNN, but later told ABC News: “Yes, I was given some questions for Biden.” Ingram said he was given five questions and asked Biden four of them, according to the outlet. “I didn’t get a chance to ask him all the things I wanted to ask,” he said.

Later on Saturday, Lawful-Sanders sent a statement defending her interview and how questions were negotiated in advance.

“When I was asked to do this interview it was most important to me to have the voices of the Black people heard. I never once felt pressured to ask certain questions,” Lawful-Sanders said. “I chose questions that were most important to the black and brown communities we serve in … Philadelphia. Those questions proved to be exactly what black and brown communities desired.”

Biden’s campaign spokesperson Lauren Hitt defended the move, saying in a statement on Saturday it was “not at all an uncommon practice for interviewees to share topics they would prefer.” She also said that agreeing on topics in advance was not a prerequisite of the interview.

Later on Saturday, people familiar with the Biden booking operation said the campaign will not continue the practice of offering “suggested questions.”

This post appeared first on The Washington Post

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