“Well, look, he’s a dictator in the sense that he is a guy who runs a country that is a communist country that’s based on a form of government totally different than ours,” Biden told CNN’s MJ Lee. “Anyway, we made progress.”
When asked about Biden’s latest comment at a Chinese Foreign Ministry briefing on Thursday, a spokesperson called it “extremely erroneous” and an “irresponsible political maneuver, which China firmly opposes.”
Alleged journalist Lee had asked "And Mr. President, after today, would you still refer to President Xi as a 'dictator'? This is a term that you used earlier this year.
Newsflash to Lee: Mainland China is a dictatorship run by the Communist Chinese Party completely controlled by Xi Jinping.
She should know that and, absent complete ignorance of world affairs, does. That puts her question in the category of "gotcha." Worse, Lee forfeited an opportunity to ask the head of the world's #1 superpower a question about the world's #2 or #3, superpower, with which the #1 superpower has many points of serious disagreement.
Disappointingly, reporters at The Washington Post responded with
But in true Biden fashion, he veered off script despite the careful planning of his aides. White House officials had structured the news conference so Biden would take four questions. The president did take the four questions and began to walk away, but couldn’t help himself as a television reporter shouted out another one. Biden turned around and came back to the podium, giving another television reporter time to ask whether the President still believed Xi was a dictator.
“Look, he is. He's a dictator in the sense that he's a guy who runs a country that is a communist country that's based on a form of government totally different than ours,” Biden said.
Video from the news conference showed some of his aides noticeably grimacing. China’s foreign ministry later said it “strongly opposes” the remarks.
President Biden could have avoided the question and been accused, rightly, of being cowardly and intimidated. He could have lied and stated that Xi Jinping is not a dictator, or given an ambiguous answer and been accused, still rightly, of a lack of honesty and transparency. Republicans would have had a field day, and Biden probably would have sealed his defeat next November.
Or he could have stated the obvious, that Xi Jinping is "a dictator."
It was a "gotcha" question asked by a reporter who, educated beyond 4th grade, knew the answer. Presumably, M.J. Lee asked the question to put the President on the spot and get her on every CNN news segment in the following two days aired about the summit. Alternatively, she had another motive. As of now, in the absence of more evidence, she deserves the benefit of the doubt and simply represents failed journalism.