President Joe Biden visited North Carolina Thursday to tout the success of “Bidenomics,” as evidenced by all the good things happening economically in this state. Naturally, Carolina Journal intended to cover the president’s remarks. Unfortunately, our reporter was denied entry.
Why? Event staff gave an explanation that the president’s visit to Abbots Creek Community Center in Raleigh was actually a “political event” that was “invite only,” not a public one. If this is the case, perhaps he was there more as Candidate Biden not President Biden.
The rejection was taken in stride by our reporter. After all, Biden’s invite-only campaign event remarks were still accessible — they were live-streamed on the WhiteHouse.Gov YouTube channel.
This raises a few questions. Who controls the invitation list for such (non)public campaign events? If Biden’s event was an exclusive campaign event, why was it streamed on WhiteHouse.Gov, and not JoeBiden.com? Where is the line drawn between official public events, and closed campaign events when it pertains to a visit from the president of the United States of America?
Mind you, Biden’s visit was not without impact. On a weekday afternoon, roads around the event space, a public community center, were closed for hours leading up to and during his remarks. Multiple schools were trapped inside the restricted zone. Students from the local public high school were trapped on buses in traffic for more than two hours. One private school made the difficult decision to close for the day, instead of subjecting parents to the logistical nightmare that accompanies such a visit.
The shutdown wore on as Biden and Cooper made planned stops at a fundraiser and at the local CookOut burger restaurant for ice cream. Traffic diversions were instituted, commerce disrupted.
These costs are understandable when dealing with an official visit from the president of the United States. Does the same hold true for invite-only campaign events that exclude undesirable reporters?
Maybe Biden’s campaign team thought to themselves, “When in Rome…” Indeed, Gov. Roy Cooper has engaged in this exact practice, repeatedly. Using COVID as an excuse to rely solely on virtual press conferences, the Cooper team controlled who was able to ask questions of the governor. As you might imagine, questions from Carolina Journal reporters were consistently screened out from behind the digital curtain.
Only when the guise of COVID caution became too obvious a charade to support the practice did Cooper return to in-person press conferences.
Biden’s remarks Thursday focused on jobs “created,” infrastructure investments, and “Bidenomics” bringing costs down for Americans. Notably, Biden did not use the term “Bidenomics,” likely because it has begun to have a negative association for Americans struggling under the weight of rising costs.
Biden leveraged one of the strongest state economies in the nation, marked by an impressive growth in people and prosperity, one that has been earning accolades nationwide, to tout his own, very different, economic agenda and record.
If we’d been granted access, we may have asked the president, “Does North Carolina’s economic success stem from the described success of ‘Bidenomics?’ Or more from a decade-plus of tax reforms, streamlined regulations, and a business-friendly focus…. spearheaded by free-market conservatives?”
It’s a shame our Carolina Journal reporter didn’t get the chance to ask it.