Fact Check

Did Karine Jean-Pierre Dodge Fox News Reporter's Question About Biden's Mental Health?

"KJP dodges question on Biden's mental health after he claimed to recently meet with long-dead French leader," Fox News reported.

Published Feb 7, 2024

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre speaks during a daily news briefing at the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House on Feb. 6, 2024 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images) (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Image Via Alex Wong/Getty Images
Claim:
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told Fox News' Peter Doocy that she did not want to engage with him on the question of U.S. President Joe Biden's mental health in connection to Biden's gaffe about speaking to long-dead French President Francois Mitterrand in 2021.
Context

It's true that Jean-Pierre told Doocy that she did not want to discuss the matter. She then moved on to another person's question. Though a deceptively edited video clip purported to show Jean-Pierre abruptly ending the briefing and walking away, the full video shows that was not the case.

On Feb. 6, 2024, Fox News reported that White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre had dodged a question about U.S. President Joe Biden's mental fitness. The headline read, "KJP dodges question on Biden's mental health after he claimed to recently meet with long-dead French leader."

Similarly, The Washington Times published, "'The Rabbit Hole?' White House spokesman flees reporter’s question about Biden’s mental health."

Other online postings made the same claim on Facebook, Truth Social, X and YouTube.

The question was posed by Fox News' White House correspondent, Peter Doocy, during a daily briefing in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room. It regarded Biden erroneously claiming during a campaign speech in Las Vegas that he had met and spoken with former French President Francois Mitterrand in 2021. The problem: Mitterrand died in 1996.

As Snopes previously reported, the Biden gaffe was real. The official transcript of his remarks indicated he had meant to say French President Emmanuel Macron.

During the exchange in the White House briefing room, Doocy asked, "How is President Biden ever going to convince the three-quarters of voters who are worried about his physical and mental health that he is OK, even though, in Las Vegas, he told the story about recently talking to a French president who died in 1996?"

Jean-Pierre can accurately be said to have dodged (as in evaded) Doocy's question when she said, "I’m not even going to go down that rabbit hole with you."

Doocy then asked, "What is the rabbit hole?"

Jean-Pierre responded, "You saw the President in Vegas, in California. You’ve seen the President in South Carolina. You saw him in Mic- — Michigan. I will just leave it there."

Jean-Pierre did not provide further context about what she meant about going down a "rabbit hole." Snopes reached out to the White House for comment and will update this story if we receive further details.

The official transcript of the entire press briefing is available on the White House website. A complete video is also available on C-SPAN and YouTube.

Edited Video Clip Purported to Show Jean-Pierre Leave Lectern

Separately, a deceptively edited video clip of the same exchange between Jean-Pierre and Doocy was shared on X by a user whose bio mentioned that they sometimes post parody content. It was served up to millions of users.

A deceptively edited video clip of the exchange between Karine Jean-Pierre and Peter Doocy was shared on X. (Screenshot via X)

The clip was edited to make it appear as if Jean-Pierre had chosen to remain silent after Doocy asked his questions. It also showed her leaving the room. However, the truth was that Jean-Pierre stayed at the lectern to answer questions from other reporters in the room for more than 41 additional minutes.

Sources

“02/06/24: Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.” YouTube, The White House, 6 Feb. 2024, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R6GMT6bUSrE.

Betz, Bradford. “KJP Dodges Question on Biden’s Mental Health after He Claimed to Recently Meet with Long-Dead French Leader.” Fox News, 6 Feb. 2024, https://www.foxnews.com/politics/kjp-dodges-question-bidens-mental-health-he-claimed-recently-meet-dead-french-leader.

“Definition of EVADE.” Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/evade.

“Gotta Give Doocy Some Kudos. He Constantly Embarrasses Her.” X, @MJTruthUltra, 6 Feb. 2024, https://twitter.com/MJTruthUltra/status/1754965843962732756.

“Press Briefing by Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.” The White House, 6 Feb. 2024, https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/press-briefings/2024/02/06/press-briefing-by-press-secretary-karine-jean-pierre-51/.

Washington Times Staff. “‘The Rabbit Hole?’ White House Spokesman Flees Reporter’s Question about Biden’s Mental Health.” The Washington Times, 7 Feb. 2024, https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2024/feb/7/the-rabbit-hole-karine-jean-pierre-flees-peter-doo/.

“White House Daily Briefing.” C-SPAN.org, 6 Feb. 2024, https://www.c-span.org/video/?533411-1/white-house-daily-briefing.

Jordan Liles is a Senior Reporter who has been with Snopes since 2016.