Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s presidential campaign contacted top television anchors and networks on Sunday to “demand” that Rudolph W. Giuliani, President Trump’s personal lawyer, be kept off the air because of what they called his misleading comments about the Biden family and Ukraine.
“We are writing today with grave concern that you continue to book Rudy Giuliani on your air to spread false, debunked conspiracy theories on behalf of Donald Trump,” a pair of top Biden campaign advisers, Anita Dunn and Kate Bedingfield, wrote in the letter.
“Giving Rudy Giuliani valuable time on your air to push these lies in the first place is a disservice to your audience and a disservice to journalism,” the advisers wrote.
The note, which was obtained by The New York Times, was sent to executives and top political anchors at ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox News and NBC, including star interviewers like Jake Tapper, Chuck Todd and Chris Wallace.
Mr. Giuliani could not immediately be reached on Sunday for comment.
Mr. Giuliani has been a ubiquitous presence on television news in recent days, advocating on Mr. Trump’s behalf. He has repeatedly alleged that Mr. Biden, while serving as vice president, intervened in Ukraine to assist his son Hunter Biden’s business interests. No evidence has surfaced that Mr. Biden intentionally tried to help his son in Ukraine.
The Biden campaign argued that Mr. Giuliani’s television appearances have allowed him to mislead the viewing public — and suggested that network journalists had done too little to hold him to account. “While you often fact check his statements in real time during your discussions, that is no longer enough,” the letter said.
Mr. Biden’s advisers have not been shy about offering advice to journalists. Earlier this month, the campaign sent a memo to an elite group of campaign reporters warning that any news story would be “misleading” if the Trump camp’s claims about Mr. Biden were unsubstantiated.
The news networks had no comment on Sunday.
As Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, Mr. Giuliani remains a highly newsworthy figure, particularly amid an escalating impeachment inquiry in which Mr. Giuliani’s own actions in Ukraine could play a central role. It is likely that Mr. Giuliani will remain a coveted booking for television journalists seeking insight into the president’s mind-set and legal defense strategy.
As for Mr. Biden, he has shown little eagerness to engage one-on-one with TV anchors. The former vice president has declined to appear on any of the weekend political talk shows since declaring his candidacy, mostly reserving his on-air appearances for venues like late-night comedy shows and “The View.”
On Sunday, Mr. Giuliani made freewheeling appearances on “Face the Nation” on CBS and “This Week” on ABC to discuss the impeachment inquiry.
Producers at both shows also requested interviews with Mr. Biden. The Biden campaign declined the invitation and instead offered its national co-chairman, Representative Cedric Richmond of Louisiana, an option that the producers rejected, according to three people familiar with the deliberations.
Weekend political talk shows typically reserve airtime for newsmakers themselves — a candidate or politician in person, for instance — rather than for lower-ranking supporters.
Still, the Biden team’s memo highlighted a topic that has loomed large for network journalists gearing up for the 2020 race: how to responsibly cover a president who regularly lobs baseless accusation at opponents. Last week, the MSNBC anchor Nicolle Wallace cut away from the president’s first news conference since the start of the impeachment inquiry, telling viewers that Mr. Trump wasn’t “telling the truth.”
Other journalists argue that the public has a right to know what a president — or, in Mr. Giuliani’s case, one of a president’s closest advocates — has to say. Television anchors have other tools of accountability at their disposal, too; Mr. Tapper won praise on Sunday for his persistent questioning of Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, who was defending Mr. Trump’s actions on Ukraine, during an interview on CNN.