It was a bit of a parlor game at the beginning of the Biden administration to make a figure of fun out of Peter Doocy, Fox News’ White House correspondent.
Doocy asked more pressing questions than the sycophant brigade in the rest of the media, but he also asked them in a way that left his flank open to a pithy rejoinder that other media outlets delighted on covering.
The most prominent among these was a January exchange where Doocy asked President Biden what he talked about during a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“You,” Biden quipped. “He sends his best.”
PETER DOOCY: Mr President, what did you talk to Vladimir Putin about?
PRESIDENT BIDEN: You. He sends his best. pic.twitter.com/Fq0zglc9aK
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) January 26, 2021
See, it’s funny because Fox News is the Trump network and Trump was a Putin stooge. Get it?
Everyone ate up these clips — and this is hardly the only one. And, yes, this kind of thing is unnecessary and a bit hypocritical from people who would whine like stuck hippos whenever a Republican would get flippant toward the media, that vanguard of democracy.
That said, Doocy clearly showed a bit of greenness in his first few weeks, and when you’re the only person in the room not asking White House press secretary Jen Psaki stuff like what Biden’s feelings on “WandaVision” are, you can’t leave those opportunities open.
But then, the problem with constantly trying to dunk on Doocy is that reporters can learn, and quickly.
The beat-up-on-Doocy party finally backfired when Psaki tried to own the Fox News correspondent when he asked a question at a media briefing about when laid-off energy workers from projects Biden killed would get the green jobs they were being promised.
“Well, I’d certainly welcome you to present your data of all the thousands and thousands of people who won’t be getting a green job. Maybe next time you’re here you can present that,” Psaki said in a mocking tone.
Except you can’t prove people won’t be getting a green job because you can’t prove a negative — and it was a good question that Psaki couldn’t answer.
Fox News’s Peter Doocy is back and he’s brought the receipts on energy to Jen Psaki.
Needless to say, she didn’t like that he pressed her on what’s the plan for laid off workers to get these fantastical “green” jobs that Biden and Kerry keep talking about (1/2) pic.twitter.com/czz45M9tXK
— Curtis Houck (@CurtisHouck) February 8, 2021
The party should have been over here, but darned if Psaki doesn’t keep trying. This didn’t quite work as planned when Doocy asked whether the involvement of the Federal Emergency Management Agency in the current border crisis means it now constitutes “a disaster.”
The New York Times reported on Sunday the Biden administration was “directing the Federal Emergency Management Agency to assist in processing an increasing number of children and teenagers who have filled detention facilities at the southwest border, as criticism mounts over the treatment of young migrants.”
“FEMA, which normally provides financial assistance during natural disasters, will help find shelter space and provide ‘food, water and basic medical care’ to thousands of young migrants,” a spokesman for the agency said in a statement.
Thus, it wasn’t unreasonable for Doocy to ask, “Does FEMA’s arrival at the border mean that the administration feels what is happening down at the border is a disaster?”
“I know that we always get into the fun of labels around here,” Psaki began. “But I would say our focus is on solutions, and this is one of the steps that the president felt would help not become a final solution, but help expedite processing, help ensure that people who are coming across the border have access to health and medical care.
“Clearly, the numbers are enormous. This is a big challenge and it certainly is a reflection of using every lever of the federal government to help address that,” she added.
Yes, but there’s something about that particular lever.
“With FEMA though, specifically their mission is helping people before, during and after disasters,” Doocy said. “We’ve heard you say that it’s a problem, that it’s a challenge. Is it now a disaster?”
Time for a bit of jocularity.
“I appreciate the opportunity. I do like your mask,” she said. (Doocy’s mask was a blue-striped mask which looked not unlike something J. Crew might sell — in other words, nothing particularly special.)
“But I will say that FEMA is there to help ensure that the people who are at the border, who are coming across the border, have access to [Health and Human Services] and [Office of Refugee Resettlement] shelters, that we can swiftly place them with vetted families. They’re playing a number of roles there to address what we feel is a significant problem and a significant challenge and I think we haven’t been hiding about that.”
Fine, but what about the administration’s messaging, which has been that now isn’t the time for migrants to come?
“DHS said that the FEMA plan for 90 days would be to receive, shelter and transfer unaccompanied children. Does that mean that the federal government now is moving beyond the message from the last couple of weeks, which was ‘Now is not the time to come’?” Doocy asked.
“No, we are doing both, and it’s a complicated problem. No doubt about it. We are sending the message clearly in the region. Now is not the time to come. But also we want to ensure that people are treated with humanity who are children, who were unaccompanied children, that’s who we are as a country, and so we are doing both,” Psaki said.
So, in spite of “the fun of labels” and the mask “compliment,” there was no dunking. Nor was there reason to be, since the situation at the southern border is a disaster — particularly for unaccompanied minors and other teens caught up in the system.
“Roughly 4,000 youths were in Customs and Border Protection facilities this week, more than the roughly 2,600 children and teenagers held in such detention facilities in June 2019,” The Times reported.
“Troy Miller, the acting commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, said last week that 9,457 children, including teenagers, were detained at the border without a parent in February, up from more than 5,800 in January.”
And all of this, thanks to Biden’s messaging on immigration. It’s a bit difficult to make someone into a figure of fun when they call you out on that.
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