Feb 9, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Scoop — Jill Biden after 2022 news conference: "Why didn't anyone stop that?"

Cover of "American Woman," by Katie Rogers

Cover: Crown

Axios has obtained an excerpt from "American Woman" — a book about modern first ladies by the N.Y. Times' Katie Rogers, out Feb. 27.

Why it matters: The book sheds light on the role First Lady Jill Biden plays in the current White House — in a way that's eerily relevant to Thursday night's presidential debacle.

Zoom in: It was Jan 19, 2022. President Biden and top aides were gathered in the Treaty Room, the president's study in the executive residence, after a press conference that ran nearly two hours. He made several factual errors.

  • Suddenly, the group saw Jill Biden in the doorway, Rogers writes in "American Woman":
  • "She had watched the news conference, and the look on her face told everyone in the room — from the president on down — that they had some explaining to do."
  • "Why didn't anyone stop that?" she demanded.

Behind the scenes: "This dressing down ... illustrated the degree to which she is her husband's fiercest protector," Rogers continues:

"Everyone stayed silent, looking at one another, and then at her, and back to one another. That included the most powerful man in the world. Her husband essentially played along, not offering an answer, even though aides had slipped him a card suggesting he end the press conference."

"Where were you guys?" the first lady asked the aides. "Where was the person who was going to end the press conference?"

Between the lines: "Her dislike of Trump was a driving reason behind her support for Joe's campaign for the presidency, and it remains so for his reelection effort, even if that means he will not leave office until age eighty-six at the end of a second term," Rogers writes.

  • "The amount of work Joe takes home with him from the Oval Office is daunting — he brings stacks of briefing books to the residence each evening — and she knows how much the job is draining him."

The backstory: Rogers, who started covering the White House in 2018, traveled a lot with First Lady Melania Trump, and found it to be "the most scrutinized volunteer job in politics, and you can do as little or as much with it as you want."

  • "I worked on this book for over two years, starting soon after President Biden took office," Rogers tells me. "I was the mom of a newborn when I started this project — note to self: never juggle a book and a baby again."

Details: The book is represented by Javelin's Matt Latimer and Keith Urbahn.

More on the book.

Go deeper