Fox News is accusing President Joe Biden of using a “cheat sheet” after the president referred to written talking points during his press conference Monday. Of course, the network had a different perspective when it came to use of note cards during the Trump administration.
Biden said Monday that he “wasn’t articulating a policy change” in favor of regime change in Russia, when he had declared during his speech Saturday in Warsaw, Poland, that Russian leader Vladimir Putin “cannot remain in power.” Instead, Biden clarified, he was “expressing the moral outrage that I felt toward this man” for waging a destructive war of conquest in Ukraine and for threatening the European democratic order. To ensure his clarification of this question was not misunderstood, Biden appeared to reference written talking points when answering questions from reporters.
In an effort to continue attacking the White House, Fox News zeroed in on Biden using a prepared set of typewritten notes as evidence of his supposed inability to manage the presidency. A wide range of network personalities have now pushed this new set of talking points ridiculing Biden’s “cheat sheet,” including Outnumbered co-host and former White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany — who admitted that she also used to prepare such note cards for then-President Donald Trump — and even the network’s purported “straight news” anchor John Roberts.
While there is nothing unusual about a president having prepared notes for a public appearance, the specific contents of those notes could well be newsworthy — a topic that came up multiple times during Trump’s presidency. For example, Trump met with gun violence survivors at the White House in 2018, and his handwritten notes included a reminder to use the phrase “I hear you,” which many people remarked at the time displayed a basic deficit of human empathy on his part.
Fox News, by contrast, ran a headline declaring that Trump had held a “thoughtful listening session,” and even chided the so-called “ liberal media” for “harp[ing] on his note card.” The network also ran a segment in which a conservative guest declared, “Who doesn't use note cards? We all have used note cards. Every president has used a note card.”
On Tuesday, however, multiple Fox News programs treated the existence of Biden’s prepared notes as a scandal in itself. On Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy said that “they gave him a script, and it essentially was a cheat sheet.”
Co-host Pete Hegseth claimed that it was “unacceptable to have a president of the United States who is not capable of answering basic questions on a foreign trip in the middle of a shooting war.”
“If you want to play the Donald Trump game, ‘if it were Donald Trump’ game, this would’ve been the third time in four days when the left was screaming for the 25th Amendment,” Hegseth later added. “If this were Donald Trump, that's just — that's where the conversation would be, that's how bad this is right now.” (Actually, Fox News prime-time host Tucker Carlson began calling for Biden to be removed using the 25th Amendment last night.)
Fox Business anchor Maria Bartiromo also brought up the so-called “cheat sheet,” asking one of her guests whether this was “Biden's weakness on the world stage on display again?”
On America’s Newsroom, Fox News White House correspondent Peter Doocy proclaimed: “We're getting a rare look now at the way the president was prepped by staffers to explain yesterday exactly what he meant overseas. So, there’s a photo, a zoomed-in photo from one of the [media] agencies of a cheat sheet. You can see right at the top, it says, ‘Tough Putin Q&A Talking Points.’”
Peter Doocy appeared again on The Faulkner Focus, with Fox anchor Harris Faulkner again describing Biden’s use of written notes as a “cheat sheet” after “he went rogue in Poland.” Later on, when a Democratic guest pointed out that Trump had used notes such as during his meeting with gun violence survivors — and that discussion of Biden’s notes was thus “the latest fake controversy” — Faulkner replied that such a comparison was “just too cute by half.”
“The difference here is that the answers are there, and one of the answers was actually not what he originally said,” Faulkner insisted. “It’s messaging from the White House, and it’s clear as day because he’s tried to say it, they've said it, and now he’s got to continue to clean up. And this one has global consequences, this gaffe.”
Of course, Trump once famously had a set of his own handwritten notes for a press conference during his first impeachment investigation, including his insistence that “I want nothing” and “I want no quid pro quo” over his delays of military aid for Ukraine, while also imploring Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to “do the right thing” in his demands to investigate the Biden family — a scheme that clearly had its own “global consequences.”
Indeed, it is Trump’s shameful record of undermining Ukraine and supporting Russia that now has Fox News fabricating an alternate history of his presidency since the war began over a month ago, while the network has pushed Kremlin talking points and repeatedly attempted to undermine the Biden administration’s international leadership.