Video: Biden asks “Are you joking?” during local interview

A couple days ago Sen. Joe Biden did an interview with Barbara West, a local TV news reporter at WFTV in Orlando, Florida. The topics discussed were those which have surfaced over the past several weeks but have been largely glossed over in the media.

When questioned by the reporter whether Sen. Obama’s “spread the wealth” comment was Marxist in nature, Sen. Biden replied asking if the reporter was joking. The exchange was one you don’t see often since not many reporters have pressed Obama or Biden in this manner.

Here is the entire 4 and half minute interview from YouTube:

Technically Biden is correct when he says the Obama/Biden presidential campaign hasn’t paid ACORN a dime for voter registrations. However, Obama’s primary campaign paid $800,000 to an ACORN subsidiary for voter registrations during the primaries, CNN reports:

A subsidiary of the group was paid $800,000 by Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama’s campaign to register voters for the 2008 primaries, and ACORN’s political wing endorsed Obama back in February. But Obama’s campaign told CNN that it “is committed to protecting the integrity of the voting process,” and said it has not worked with ACORN during the general election.

Biden is correct in what he says, but the entire context of the story isn’t being told by his answer, though politicians on both sides tend to include or omit context depending on how they’re trying to come across.

A report on the interview from ABC’s Political Punch:

Biden seems quite taken aback by the anchor’s questions, at one point asking her, “Are you joking? Is this is a joke? Or is that a real question?”

The interview prompted the Obama-Biden campaign to cancel a subsequent interview with Jill Biden.

“The campaign cited ‘an unprofessional interview’ WFTV’s Barbara West did Thursday with Joe Biden,” reports the Orlando Sentinel. “In a statement Friday, Adrianne Marsh, Florida spokeswoman for Obama’s campaign, said the station, in talking with Sen. Biden, was ‘both combative and woefully uninformed about simple facts. … In a line of questioning that would make Rush Limbaugh proud, West even went as far as to quote Karl Marx, a Communist icon, in a disturbing attempt to associate Barack Obama with socialism.'”

It was funny to watch Biden’s reaction to these questions, which the media never dares ask outside of some gutsy local reporter with nothing to lose on the national stage.

The list of questions:

  • If Biden is “embarrassed about the blatant attempt to register phony voters by ACORN,” since Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., worked with the organization in the past
  • If Obama’s comment about wanting tax policies that “spread the wealth” is “a potentially crushing political blunder”
  • “You may recognize this famous quote: ‘from each according to his abilities to each according to his needs.’ That’s from Karl Marx. How is Sen. Obama not being a Marxist if he intends to spread the wealth around?”
  • Regarding Biden’s comment that the world would test Obama and the Obama-Biden administration will need the support of Americans since it might not be immediately apparent Obama did the right thing — “Are you forewarning Americans that nothing will be done and America’s days as the world’s leading power are over?”
  • “What do you say to the people that are concerned that Barack Obama will want to turn America into a Socialist country like Sweden?”

On the question over Biden’s comments concerning Obama being tested in the first 2 years, he seemed irritated the reporter drew such a conclusion. The bottom line though is that Biden’s comments deserved some follow-up, what exactly did Biden mean? So much could be inferred from his comments and I can’t even imagine if Gov. Palin had made similar comments, she would have been questioned into oblivion on them.

Sound off below, was it a good interview or a completely biased, loaded line of questioning? Would you like to see more or fewer interviews like this of both campaigns?


According to the Orlando Sentinel, the Obama campaign will no longer accept interview requests from this station:

Biden so disliked West’s line of questioning that the Obama campaign canceled a WFTV interview with Jill Biden, the candidate’s wife.

“This cancellation is non-negotiable, and further opportunities for your station to interview with this campaign are unlikely, at best for the duration of the remaining days until the election,” wrote Laura K. McGinnis, Central Florida communications director for the Obama campaign.

McGinnis said the Biden cancellation was “a result of her husband’s experience yesterday during the satellite interview with Barbara West.”
WFTV news director Bob Jordan said, “When you get a shot to ask these candidates, you want to make the most of it. They usually give you five minutes.”

Jordan said political campaigns in general pick and choose the stations they like. And stations often pose softball questions during the satellite interviews.

“Mr. Biden didn’t like the questions,” Jordan said. “We choose not to ask softball questions.”

Jordan added, “I’m crying foul on this one.”

So the station isn’t backing down from West’s line of questioning, which surprises me somewhat.


The WFTV reporter who conducted the interview has posted a message on a WFTV blog:

In a call to me Friday evening, West (pictured) said of Biden: “I have a great deal of respect for him. I have a great deal of respect for Sen. Obama. We are given four minutes of a satellite window for these interviews. Four precious minutes. I got right down to it and, yes, I think I asked him some pointed questions. These are questions that are rolling about right now and questions that need to be asked. I don’t think I was rude or inconsiderate to him. I think I was probing and maybe tough. I can’t believe that in all of his years in politics, and all of his campaigning and such, that he hasn’t run into some tough questions before. He’s certainly up to it in giving good answers.”

West is also sticking by her line of questioning along with the WFTV news director.