President Biden spoke to a half-empty auditorium on Wednesday while holding a live CNN “town hall” event in Ohio.
The more than a dozen blank rows were not visible to TV viewers thanks to flattering shots that appeared to show a full, undisturbed crowd packing the front rows – in striking visual normality after more than a year of COVID- 19 restrictions.
But members of the White House’s traveling press pool shared photos from the back of the room, revealing that the venue was in fact far from packed on Mount St. Joseph University and Cincinnati.
Bloomberg News reporter Jennifer Epstein, who traveled with Biden as a wire services representative, tweeted a picture of “[w]hat Biden CNN City Hall looks out from the back of the auditorium ”
Voice of America reporter Steve Herman, radio pool reporter for the tour, tweeted a similar picture showing that “[b]ack of the auditorium is empty. ”
Herman also posted a video showing other angles where spectators were missing from seats.
The image of empty seats was inconsistent with Biden’s attempt to project confidence in overcoming the coronavirus pandemic, including his assertion, “this is not a pandemic.”
It is unclear whether the room was half full due to concerns about the virus or due to lack of public interest. A White House official referred an investigation to CNN.
CNN spokeswoman Lauren Pratapas told The Post: “This was a typical audience size for a CNN town hall.” She did not elaborate on the cause of the small crowd.
Former President Donald Trump routinely taunted Biden during last year’s presidential campaign to attract smaller audiences – even before the pandemic – compared to his own gatherings, which generally included tens of thousands of fired fans.
“Biden is coming to Florida, you have 12, 13 people. You know, they make the circles. And he has a hard time filling the circles. “We probably have 30,000 people here or so,” Trump told a roaring crowd in Jacksonville, Florida, in September.