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AP sets news agenda with Biden’s unscripted ‘Armageddon’ warning

President Joe Biden speaks at an IBM facility in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., Oct. 6, 2022. At a fundraiser that night the president made news when he warned that Vladimir Putin might literally go nuclear on Ukraine. (AP Photo / Andrew Harnik)

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AP White House journalists, reporter Aamer Madhani and correspondent Zeke Miller, recognized news when they heard it. They jumped on President Joe Biden’s off-the-cuff warnings about nuclear “Armageddon” made during a sleepy fundraiser, and set the news agenda with coverage that rocketed around the globe ahead of all competitors.

Madhani was in the 13th hour of a long day crisscrossing New York and New Jersey with the president, while Biden was well into his standard — and dull — stump speech at the second of two fundraisers. Then the president unexpectedly veered off into worries that Vladimir Putin might literally go nuclear on Ukraine. “We have not faced the prospect of Armageddon since Kennedy and the Cuban Missile Crisis” Biden told a small group of big-dollar donors. Madhani and Miller, who was back in Washington, immediately crafted a news alert and 200-word story, breaking news of the remarks.

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