“If He’s Awake”: Tension at Press Conference as Journalist’s Biden Joke Provokes Rebuke

“That’s inappropriate,” O’Donnell pointed to an off-camera colleague behind her at the news conference.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and NBC News’ Kelly O’Donnell interrupted a heated broadcast press conference on Wednesday to chastise a journalist who made a joke about President Joe Biden amid a flurry of calls for the political leader to withdraw from the race.

The pivotal moment occurred when O’Donnell, an NBC News political reporter and president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, enquired about Biden’s purported plan to continue running in spite of harsh criticism from Democrats for his appalling performance in the June 27 debate against Donald Trump.

“You’re saying he’s absolutely running?” O’Donnell asked. Jean-Pierre replied, “He’s saying that, and I’m sharing with you his view.”

When O’Donnell said “we would invite the president to come here and tells us that directly,” a journalist behind O’Donnell stated, “If he’s awake.”

O’Donnell went on to talk, then paused to signal her peer by pointing a finger over her shoulder. “That’s inappropriate,” O’Donnell stated. Jean-Pierre jumped in to defend Biden, reiterating what O’Donnell said, “As you heard from your colleague, the president of the WHCA, that’s inappropriate.”