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Radio Host Who Claimed Biden Aides Supplied Interview Questions Departs Station

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In a one-minute video posted on Facebook on Sunday, Andrea Lawful-Sanders announced, "Effective immediately, I am no longer an on-air host at WURD." This announcement followed her recent interview with U.S. President Joe Biden, during which she claimed that the questions posed to the President were provided in advance by his aides. As a result of this controversy, Lawful-Sanders has resigned from WURD Radio, according to a report by CNN.

Sara Lomax, president and CEO of the Philadelphia-based station, issued a statement on Sunday on WURD's website, explaining the situation. "The interview featured pre-determined questions provided by the White House, which violates our practice of remaining an independent media outlet accountable to our listeners," Lomax said. "As a result, Ms. Lawful-Sanders and WURD Radio have mutually agreed to part ways, effective immediately."

WURD is Pennsylvania's only Black-owned talk radio station. Lomax emphasized the station's commitment to being an independent and trustworthy voice for its primary audience of Black Philadelphians. She stated that using pre-provided questions "jeopardizes that trust and is not a practice that WURD Radio engages in or endorses as a matter of practice or official policy." Lomax added, "WURD Radio is not a mouthpiece for the Biden or any other Administration."

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Lawful-Sanders, who hosted "The Source," interviewed Biden last week, asking him four questions about the election's stakes, his achievements, his debate performance, and his message to undecided voters. In an interview with CNN's Victor Blackwell on Saturday, she revealed that these questions were among eight recommended to her by Biden's aides prior to the interview. "The questions were sent to me for approval. I approved them," she said.

In her Facebook video, Lawful-Sanders expressed her gratitude to all who supported her during her tenure at WURD. “I tendered my resignation yesterday. It was accepted,” she said. She thanked “all of you who played a part in this journey, including WURD Radio.” She added that she is “grateful,” and that “Life is moving. Things are shifting and changing. And, in a day or so you'll hear more.”

The incident has fueled ongoing controversy about Biden's performance and transparency, following his lackluster showing in the first presidential debate hosted by CNN. Some top Democrats have expressed frustration and concern over his debate performance, with suggestions that he should reconsider accepting the party's nomination.

"If the White House is trying now to prove the vim, vigor ... of the president, I don't know how they do that by sending questions first before the interview so that the president knows what's coming," said CNN's Victor Blackwell. Blackwell also noted that both Lawful-Sanders and Earl Ingram, host of "The Earl Ingram Show" in Milwaukee, who also interviewed the president this week, asked Biden "essentially the same questions."

A spokesperson for Biden's campaign did not deny that the campaign provided questions but clarified, "We do not condition interviews on acceptance of these questions." The spokesperson, Lauren Hitt, added, "It's not at all an uncommon practice for interviewees to share topics they would prefer. These questions were relevant to the news of the day - the president was asked about this debate performance as well as what he'd delivered for black Americans."

However, Hitt later stated that the campaign would stop suggesting questions to interviewers. "While interview hosts have always been free to ask whatever questions they please, moving forward we will refrain from offering suggested questions," a source familiar with the Biden booking operation confirmed.

This situation underscores the delicate balance between media independence and the relationship between political figures and journalists, raising questions about transparency and integrity in political reporting.

July 8, 2024 12:06 p.m. 474

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