Texas Sen. John Cornyn drew criticism Monday for asking if President Joe Biden is “really in charge” in a series of tweets highlighting Biden’s modest media visibility.
Cornyn tweeted out a Politico story headlined “The Biden White House media doctrine: Less can be more,” on Biden’s low-profile engagement strategy including limited tweets and fewer cable news appearances Monday morning.
“The president is not doing cable news interviews,” Cornyn quotes from the article. “Tweets from his account are limited and, when they come, unimaginably conventional. The public comments are largely scripted. Biden has opted for fewer sit down interviews with mainstream outlets and reporters.”
Invites the question: is he really in charge?
— Senator John Cornyn (@JohnCornyn) April 12, 2021
“Invites the question: is he really in charge?” Cornyn asked.
Biden’s media strategy is almost a direct foil to that of former President Donald Trump, who was known for his frequent inflammatory tweets and who was kicked off of Twitter for perpetuating false claims that the election was stolen and other conspiracy theories related to the QAnon movement.
The White House brushed off Cornyn’s tweets later Monday.
“I can confirm the president of the United States does not spend his time tweeting conspiracy theories,” press secretary Jen Psaki said. “He spends his time working for the American people.”
Cornyn was one of many Republicans who avoided talking about Trump’s tweets before his account was removed from Twitter. In one instance, Cornyn walked away when asked about a conspiracy theory Trump tweeted out that an elderly Buffalo man filmed hitting his head and bleeding after being pushed by a police officer was an “ANTIFA provocateur.”
“I’m not familiar with it,” Cornyn told reporters of the tweet at the time.
Critics went after Cornyn for his comments.
“You would think you would [be] lauding Biden for this,” tweeted former President George W. Bush aide Matthew Dowd. “So you are criticizing him for actually spending time on his actual job? Maybe you could consider doing that.”
Lord have mercy. You would think you would lauding Biden for this. So you are criticizing him for actually spending time on his actual job? Maybe you could consider doing that.
— Matthew Dowd (@matthewjdowd) April 12, 2021
Fort Worth Rep. Marc Veasey, a Democrat, said Cornyn “doesn’t get it,” in a tweet.
“It’s a relief that Trump and his tweeting are done!” Veasey said.
No one else in America is worried abt Biden’s Tweet game! The Sen doesn’t get it: it’s a relief that Trump and his tweeting are done! https://t.co/LLhrpCU6NL
— Marc Veasey (@MarcVeasey) April 12, 2021
Cornyn responded to the blowback on Twitter, arguing that he “posted the whole story so people can read it for themselves, and highlighted a couple of excerpts.”
Many conservatives painted Biden as senile during his presidential run, criticizing him for not being engaged in the campaign and dubbing him “hidin’ Biden.” Trump joked that Biden was hiding in his basement.
Cornyn’s tweet could lend credence to conspiracy theories that Biden is not in control of his presidency. Including QAnon conspiracy theorists who think Biden is a “puppet,” and a conservative whisper campaign that Vice President Kamala Harris is the one in charge of the presidency, according to The Washington Post.
Cornyn’s spokesman Drew Brandewie argued that “Democrats and the media raised the same questions about former President Trump,” citing examples from Bloomberg, The Washington Post and The Atlantic. Bush’s control of the presidency was also questioned in the media.
“Why was it OK then, but it’s not OK now when a Democrat is in the White House?” Brandewie asked.