The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the view of The Hill

The absolute farce that was the Biden-Lemon town hall

The activism that infects much of modern journalism was featured under the lights of primetime on Wednesday night during President Biden’s CNN town hall in Cincinnati.

Exhibit A came when the topic turned to the filibuster and the president signaling that abolishing it would throw Congress “into chaos,” likely angering many on the far left, including the moderator. 

“If you were to filibuster, you had to stand on the floor and hold the floor,” Biden said in explaining why he supports returning to a time when senators had to be present in the Senate chamber to filibuster.

“So, you had to take — there were significantly fewer filibusters in those days. In the middle of the civil rights movement.”

“Let me talk to you about that,” CNN host and town hall moderator Don Lemon attempted to interrupt.

“Well, let me finish my answer, because I’d tell you what I’d do. I would go back to that, where you have to maintain the floor. You have to stand there and talk and hold the floor. You can’t just say…”

“I understand that,” Lemon, now playing the role of activist, jumped in again. “But what difference does that — if you hold the floor for, you know, a day or a year, what difference does it make?”

“Here’s the thing for me,” Lemon continued, shedding the last pretense of objectivity. “You talked about people — and this is important for people who look like me. My grandmother would sit around when I was a kid, 5th grade, had a 5th grade education. I learned that she couldn’t read when I was doing my homework. And she would tell me stories about people asking her to count the number of jelly beans in the jar – or the soap in – so why is protecting the filibuster, is that more important than protecting voting rights, especially for people who fought and died for that?”

Oh, what an absolute farce. 

Lemon was supposed to be the town hall’s moderator, not the lead spokesman of Blow Up the Filibuster PAC. 

This is the same anchor who claimed during a recent PBS interview: “I don’t do opinion. And I know — the difference for me is, I do point of view.”

What is it about the filibuster – and the prospect of abolishing it – that exposes so many “journalists” for the activists they really are?

“When it comes to the filibuster, immigration is a big issue, of course, related to the filibuster, but there’s also Republicans who are passing bill after bill trying to restrict voting rights,” PBS’s Yamiche Alcindor said during Biden’s first and only formal press conference in March. “[Senate Majority Leader] Chuck Schumer’s calling it in an existential threat to democracy.

“Why not back a filibuster rule that at least gets around issues, including voting rights or immigration? [South Carolina Congressman] Jim Clyburn, someone, of course, who you know very well, has backed the idea of a filibuster rule when it comes to civil rights and voting rights,” Alcindor finally concluded.

Yup. That was an actual question. And not included in this “question” was Alcindor failing to quote then-Sen. Biden’s own words back to him from a speech he called one of the most important of his career in 2005, regarding said filibuster. 

“It is not only a bad idea, it upsets the constitutional design and it disservices the country,” Biden said in 2005 in arguing against eliminating the Senate filibuster. “No longer would the Senate be that ‘different kind of legislative body’ that the Founders intended. No longer would the Senate be the ‘saucer’ to cool the passions of the immediate majority.”

The only decent questions to come out of the CNN town hall were asked by audience members, most notably from the co-founder and owner of Cincinnati restaurant group Thunderdome.

“We employ hundreds of hard-working team members throughout the state of Ohio and throughout the country. And we’re looking to hire more every day as we try to restart our restaurant business. The entire industry, amongst other industries, continue to struggle to find employees,” said John Lanni in reflecting the sentiment of many restaurant owners across the country. “How do you and the Biden administration plan to incentivize those who haven’t returned to work yet? Hiring is our top priority right now.”

Biden went on to filibuster – for lack of a better term – for minutes before making this intellectually insulting and evidence-free conclusion: “I think it really is a matter of people deciding now that they have opportunities to do other things, and there’s a shortage of employees. People are looking to make more money and to bargain. And so I think your business and the tourist business is really going to be in a bind for a little while.”

Lanni seemed unimpressed with the answer. “I was hoping he would recognize it is every industry’s dilemma,” Lanni told the Cincinnati Enquirer afterwards. “We are in a labor crisis and we need to find a way to incentivize people to get back to work. I just heard restaurants are going to have a hard road going forward and that we need to pay our workers more. That’s happening and it’s still not enough.”

He added: “I feel like he didn’t really answer the question.” 

The final question of the evening went to Lemon, who ended things appropriately, considering the tone and context of the evening. Per the CNN transcript:

Lemon: “Mr. President, you’ve been the big guy for six months now in the White House. Can you take us behind the scenes, something that was extraordinary or unusual that happened that stands out to you?”

Biden: “Yeah, ‘Mr. President, you didn’t close the door. … Mr. President, what the hell are you going out at this time for?'” (Laughter) “You know, it’s a wonderful honor. As you can tell, I hope I have very good manners, but I’m not very hung up on protocol.” (More laughter.)

The joke is on you, the American viewer or voter who simply wants the president to be challenged on the myriad of problems facing the country: Rising inflation (the president says his spending bills would reduce inflation), skyrocketing violent crime (Biden argues it’s a gun problem), a border that isn’t secure (with a record number of migrants entering the country this year, topping 1.1 million recently) and an an opioid crisis that is killing a record number of Americans (with a 30 percent jump in drug overdoses in 2020 over 2019).  

No matter: Here’s how the network is spinning the event.

Part of Biden’s tackling of COVID-19 included his claim that vaccines prevent people from getting the virus. (It doesn’t — just ask those six Texas Democrats and a White House staffer who tested positive in breakthrough cases recently.) 

And then there’s his answer about whether children 12 and younger should be vaccinated. This is verbatim: “The question is whether or not we should be in a position where, you, uh, um, are why can’t the, the, the experts say we know that this virus is, in fact, uh, um, is going to be, or, excuse me, we know why all the drugs approved are not temporarily approved.” 

Got that?

Biden hasn’t held a formal press conference in 119 days. If last night’s performance – with the friendliest of friendly moderators largely running the show – is any indication of how Biden would perform in a free-wheeling session with the press, then don’t expect to see him in that kind of format anytime soon. 

Joe Concha is a media and politics columnist for The Hill and a Fox News contributor.

Tags Chuck Schumer CNN Don Lemon Filibuster Filibuster in the United States Senate Joe Biden leftwing media bias Parliamentary procedure Political positions of Joe Biden Senate

More White House News

See All
See all Hill.TV See all Video

Most Popular

Load more


See all Video