Former Vice President Joe Biden’s staff forced a reporter to hide in a closet during a $500-a-head fundraiser in 2011.
Scott Powers, at the time a reporter for the Orlando Sentinel, was forced into a storage closet by Biden’s staff during a Florida fundraiser held on the behalf of then-Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL). According to Powers’ own description of the incident, as published by the Sentinel, he was ordered to stay in a makeshift “holding room,” which was really a closet, by Biden’s advance team.
“When I arrived I was told I would not be able to speak with any of the people at the party, and that I was to wait in a room until Biden and Nelson arrived. I went in willingly, with the understanding that I was free to leave — but if I left I’d probably have to leave the house entirely, and not get to cover the speeches.”
Seeing no way out of the situation without missing the opportunity to cover the event, Powers remained in the room. The wait, however, turned out to be longer than initially anticipated. It was also made even more uncomfortable by the fact Biden’s team had posted a staffer to stand “watch outside the door.”
“I sat to wait, mistakenly thinking it would be only a few minutes,” Powers wrote. “The door wasn’t locked, though every time I opened it and stepped out to see what was going on a staffer told me I couldn’t come out yet. He’d let me know.”
Powers eventually was forced to spend more than an hour and fifteen minutes waiting in a cramped closet, while a 150 donors mingled at the $500-a-head fundraiser outside. He was eventually freed when Biden and Nelson arrived at the event.
Although Powers covered the event without any mention of his “temporary prison,” news of the incident quickly went viral after the Sentinel’s editorial leadership decided to report on how the Biden camp had treated their employee.
In response to the attention, Biden’s then-spokesperson issued a public apology, claiming the incident resulted because of an “inexperienced staffer.”
The Biden team’s improper treatment of Powers comes to attention as the former vice president and his campaign staff have increasingly lobbed attacks at the press in recent weeks.
On Tuesday, Biden accused a Fox News reporter of bias when the journalist fact checked a a boast the former vice president made about the size of his crowds in Iowa.
“I mean, I know you, I know you’re going to go after me no matter what I’ve got,” Biden told the Fox News reporter. “Yeah, you, and it’s okay. Good. I’m a big boy. I can handle it.”
Along similar lines, Biden got into a tense exchange with Joel Pollak, a senior editor at Breitbart News, earlier this month at the Iowa State Fair. The heated moment occurred when Pollak confronted Biden about misquoting President Donald Trump’s response to neo-Nazis marching on Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017.
Biden has repeatedly claimed that Trump called the neo-Nazis “very fine people,” even going to the extent of including the line in his regular stump speech. However, as some have noted, including CNN’s Jake Tapper, the president made no such claim.
Trump, in fact, had denounced white supremacists in the wake of Charlottesville, saying they should be “condemned totally.” The “very fine people” comment was actually made in reference to the non-violent protesters, from both the left and right, that had gathered in Charlottesville to make their feelings known about the removal of a Confederate statue.
When Pollak fact checked Biden on the topic in Iowa, the former vice president responded poorly.
“No, he did not. He said, he walked out, and he said — let’s get this straight,” the former vice president said. “He said there were ‘very fine people’ in both groups. They’re chanting antisemitic slogans, carrying flags.”
Afterwards, Biden’s team attempted to spin the altercation by attacking Breitbart News. Even though a number mainstream media outlets abetted in that task, Biden’s team quickly turned on them as well.
Last week, Biden’s campaign responded to mounting doubts about their candidate’s fitness for the presidency, after a string of high-profile gaffes, by attacking the national press.
“This is a press narrative, not a voter narrative,” Symone Sanders, the campaign’s spokeswoman, told CNN when asked if the gaffes were hurting Biden’s candidacy — as polling indicates.