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White House blames Boris Johnson for embarrassing Oval Office, no-questions-for-Biden kerfuffle
Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images

White House blames Boris Johnson for embarrassing Oval Office, no-questions-for-Biden kerfuffle

The media this week were as up in arms as they are likely to get with the Biden administration after White House staffers shouted over U.S. reporters' questions for the president and then booted them from the Oval Office — even after allowing multiple British reporters to ask questions.

Journalists on the right, left, and middle were indignant following the incident that occurred Tuesday during a photo-op in the Oval after a meeting between President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

The White House said Wednesday afternoon that the whole thing was Prime Minister Johnson's fault.

What happened?

During the meetup in front of the press, Johnson called on two U.K. reporters. Biden responded to questions from both of them. At one point, while Johnson was still speaking and it appeared Biden was attempting to offer another answer, White House staffers began shouting over the president's remarks, kept American reporters from asking questions, and marched all the cameras and journalists out of the room.

The Wall Street Journal's Andrew Restuccia described it as a "chaotic scene" during which "White House aides shouted over American reporters as we tried to ask Biden questions."

CNN's Jeremy Diamond characterized it similarly, writing that Biden answered the British reporters' questions and that White House "aides began shouting over reporters" and prevented "any Q&A" with the U.S. press.

The press pool was, to say the least, not happy. White House Correspondents' Association President Steven Portnoy said that "the entire editorial component of US pool" immediately marched over to press secretary Jen Psaki's office to register a formal complaint about the incident, VOA's Steve Herman reported.

The White House refused to take responsibility for the embarrassing episode.

Instead, Psaki laid the blame at the feet of Prime Minister Johnson.

During the press secretary's daily briefing Wednesday, a reporter asked her to comment on "what transpired in the Oval Office yesterday when we were all in there trying to hear from the president and the prime minister."

"The British prime minister in the American Oval Office called on British reporters, and then when American reporters tried to call the American President, we were escorted out, to put it that way," the reporter said.

Psaki responded by pointing the finger at Johnson.

"Well, I think in that circumstance — and I think our relationship with the United Kingdom and with Prime Minister Johnson is so strong and abiding — we will be able to move forward beyond this, but he called on individuals from his press corps without alerting us to that intention in advance," she declared.

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