‘Goodest Job’ or ‘Good as Job’? The White House Wants a Word.

‘Goodest Job’ or ‘Good as Job’? The White House Wants a Word.


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ABC News adjusted its initial transcript of a much-discussed moment during President Biden’s Friday interview after White House officials told the network that they believed the president’s words had been inaccurately rendered, according to several people familiar with the discussion.

The moment occurred toward the end of Mr. Biden’s interview, when George Stephanopoulos asked the president how he would feel if he stayed in the presidential race and was defeated by former President Donald J. Trump.

“I’ll feel as long as I gave it my all and I did the goodest job as I know I can do, that’s what this is about,” Mr. Biden said, according to the official transcript that was distributed by ABC on Friday night.

By Saturday afternoon, the quote in the network’s online transcript had changed slightly: “I’ll feel as long as I gave it my all and I did the good as job as I know I can do, that’s what this is about.” The network appended an editors’ note explaining that the transcript “has been updated for clarity.”

Mr. Biden’s actual words at that point during the interview were difficult to make out and open to some degree of interpretation.

ABC’s standards team decided to review the audio after receiving queries on Saturday from the White House along with several news organizations, asking whether Mr. Biden had said “goodest” or “good as,” according to a person briefed on the network’s discussions.

After conducting its review, the network decided to adjust the transcript and append the editors’ note, the person said. The network did not modify the audio and video of the interview itself.

After the ABC transcript was adjusted on Saturday, a spokesman for the president’s re-election campaign emailed several reporters for The New York Times requesting that the word “goodest” be changed in the newspaper’s coverage of the interview, citing the updated transcript.

The Times has revised Mr. Biden’s quote in its articles about the interview to conform with the updated ABC transcript.

At a moment of high political peril for Mr. Biden, and widespread discussion about his physical and mental health, nearly every word he utters in public — particularly in an unscripted setting such as the ABC interview — is under a microscope.

Following Friday’s interview, White House stenographers, who are not political appointees and regularly record all of the president’s public remarks, noticed a difference between their recordings and the ABC transcript, according to one person familiar with the situation.

That led a White House official to raise the issue of the quote’s accuracy with representatives of ABC on Saturday morning, the person said.

The 22-minute interview, which aired on Friday at 8 p.m., was watched by 8.5 million viewers, according to early data from Nielsen. It was ABC’s most-watched prime-time news program, aside from election nights and debates, since Mr. Stephanopoulos interviewed the former F.B.I. director James Comey in April 2018.



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