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Biden ‘really irresponsible’ to cite Hamas numbers, says radio host removed from SOTU for outburst

“I was not very happy with the speech before he got to Israel,” Sid Rosenberg told JNS. “And then he hits you with how he really feels.”

Sid Rosenberg at the JNS studio in Jerusalem, January 2024. Photo by Josh Hasten.
Sid Rosenberg at the JNS studio in Jerusalem, January 2024. Photo by Josh Hasten.

New York City radio host Sid Rosenberg was escorted out of the State of the Union on Thursday night after shouting “Who says?” when U.S. President Joe Biden cited the claim of Hamas-controlled Gazan health authorities that 30,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since Oct. 7.

Rosenberg, who hosts 77 WABC’s “Sid and Friends in the Morning” and was a guest at the State of the Union address of Rep. Anthony D’Esposito (R-N.Y.), told JNS that he grew increasingly frustrated over the course of Biden’s remarks.

“I was not very happy with the speech before he got to Israel,” Rosenberg said. “And then he hits you with how he really feels, which is he’s worried about Palestinians and he wants a two-state solution.”

“And according to the Palestinian health ministry and the Gaza health ministry, which are not credible news sources, 30,000 people are dead,” Rosenberg said. “Once he went there and actually quoted the Palestinian ministry of health, as if that’s a credible news source, that’s when I got furious.”

Per the official White House transcript, Biden was saying “This war has taken a greater toll on innocent civilians than all previous wars in Gaza combined. More than 30,000 Palestinians have been killed—.”

“Says who?” an audience member said, per the official transcript.

Biden continued, “—most of whom are not Hamas. Thousands and thousands of innocents—women and children. Girls and boys also orphaned.”

‘I’m gonna go nuts’

Capitol law-enforcement officers removed Rosenberg from the House chamber but declined to arrest him formally.

He told JNS that his interjection was a spontaneous reaction to what Biden said.

“I wasn’t like, ‘Hey, if he says 30,000, I’m gonna go nuts,’” Rosenberg said. “When you mention a two-state solution to me, that really gets me very angry. If you mention a ceasefire, that gets me really angry. When you quote a Hamas news agency that is basically Hamas propaganda and you’re the president of the United States, that to me is really irresponsible and not right.”

Heckling, jeering

Rosenberg’s outburst was one of several crowd interactions during the State of the Union. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) interrupted Biden to ask that he address the murder of Laken Riley, a 26-year-old nursing student who was killed by a Venezuelan migrant who had entered the United States illegally.

“Laken Riley, an innocent young woman who was killed by an illegal, that’s right,” Biden said, going off-script. “But how many thousands of people are being killed by legals?” (The official White House transcript recorded Biden mistaking Riley’s name for “Lanken,” while The New York Times reported that he said “Lincoln.”)

Heckling and jeers have become increasingly common at State of the Union addresses, since Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) shouted “You lie!” at then-president Barack Obama in 2009. He apologized to Obama, but the House still voted subsequently to reprimand him.

Biden was also interrupted by Steve Nikoui, a Gold Star father of a Marine who was killed during the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021. 

Nikoui was arrested after shouting “Abbey Gate,” a reference to the Kabul airport site of an Islamic State suicide bomb attack that killed 169 Afghan civilians and 13 U.S. service members, including Nikoui’s son Kareem.

Rosenberg said he thought it was hypocritical that supporters of Biden could cheer the president on while detractors were removed.

“I witnessed firsthand the Democrats, and they were together, they were having a good time,” Rosenberg told JNS. “They were hooting and hollering and yelling and screaming.”

“I don’t see how that’s OK for adults to act like kindergarten children and then when somebody spurts out two words, like that poor father of a young man who was killed, I’m not sure why that’s not OK,” he added.

Nikoui was charged with a misdemeanor under Washington, D.C.’s “Crowding, Obstructing or Incommoding” statute. The U.S. Capitol Police issued a statement noting that disrupting Congress or demonstrating in a congressional building is illegal.

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