The job of President Joe Biden’s press secretary — at least officially — is to answer truthfully questions posed by the White House press corps.
But when Fox News White House correspondent Peter Doocy asked a series of questions that, if answered truthfully, would embarrass the president by exposing his cynicism and hypocrisy, press secretary Jen Psaki had no choice but to throw in her cards and retreat to her unofficial job description: covering for Joe Biden.
The sparring between Doocy and Jen Psaki usually is the highlight of the daily news briefings. The reason, of course, is that Doocy — unlike many of the White House reporters — is willing to ask the tough questions.
Monday was no exception as Doocy recounted many of Biden’s hypocritical statements and conduct of late.
The grilling came in the form of six questions, the last of which would leave the press secretary stammering to provide a good response.
“Before Joe Biden was president, he said that COVID travel restrictions on foreign countries were ‘hysterical xenophobia’ and ‘fearmongering.’ So what changed?” the Fox reporter asked.
Psaki responded saying, “The president has not been critical of travel restrictions,” and added that Biden’s critique also had to do with what she characterized as a “xenophobic tweet and how [Trump] called — what he called the coronavirus.”
It’s not clear which tweet Psaki is referring to. Trump started calling COVID the “China virus” in March 2020, a month-and-a-half after Trump imposed his ban on travel from China, according to NBC News.
Weeks before that, at a Jan. 31, 2020, campaign event in Iowa, then-candidate Biden made some of his best-known comments on Trump’s handling of the pandemic. Trump had issued the travel ban related to China earlier in the day.
“In moments like this, this is where the credibility of the president is most needed, as he explains what we should and should not do,” Biden said, according to FactCheck.org. “This is no time for Donald Trump’s record of hysteria and xenophobia — hysterical xenophobia — and fearmongering to lead the way instead of science.”
While FactCheck claimed it was “unclear” what Biden was referring to specifically, the context of the newly announced travel restriction makes it pretty clear what he was talking about.
By April 2020, Biden had come around, at least according to his deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfeld, who told CNN, “Science supported this ban, therefore, he did, too.”
“Science supported this ban. Therefore, he did too.” @JoeBiden says he supports @realDonaldTrump‘s ban on travel from China during the virus pandemic, despite calling Trump xenophobic on the same day he announced the ban.https://t.co/4Hp89BR0gy
— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) April 4, 2020
Doocy then pressed Psaki on why Biden didn’t wear a face mask while shopping in a store on Nantucket Island over the weekend that had a sign saying, “Required Face Covering.”
US: While on holiday, Biden browses through a shop without wearing a face mask. Despite the shop in Nantucket requiring patrons wear a mask.
Biden himself urges Americans including very young children to wear masks. pic.twitter.com/sQ3S4vyiwY
— Apex World News (@apexworldnews) November 28, 2021
The press secretary deflected all three attempts Doocy made to get an answer, including what example Biden is setting for the American people by his conduct.
“The president is somebody who follows the recommendations and the advice of the CDC. I don’t know what the circumstances were of that particular moment,” Psaki said.
She followed with more pablum.
Doocy then moved on to ask about Biden’s decision to reinstitute Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy regarding those seeking to apply for asylum in the U.S.
He noted that Biden once described the policy as “dangerous, inhumane, and goes against everything we stand for as a nation of immigrants.”
“So why is he keeping it?” Doocy asked.
“[Biden] continues to stand by exactly those comments and statements,” Psaki answered, “And the Secretary of Homeland Security put out a memorandum conveying we want to end this program. But we also believe in following the law. And that’s exactly what we’re doing as there was — there was a ruling that required us moving forward with implementation.”
In August, the Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling that the Biden administration must keep the “Remain in Mexico” policy in place because it failed to follow the proper procedure to end it.
Doocy then turned to the issue of the Waukesha Christmas parade attack and asked a question Psaki particularly struggled to answer well, because there really isn’t a good answer in light of Biden’s conduct.
The Fox correspondent pointed out that prosecutors said “the assailant swerved his truck side to side as part of an intentional act to run over as many people as possible. Six people are dead. Some children remain hospitalized. Why hasn’t the president visited the members of this Christmas parade attack?”
Doocy: “Since [Biden] said that this administration is monitoring the situation in Waukesha closely, it has revealed…the assailant swerved his truck side-to-side to run over as many people as possible…Why hasn’t [he] visited the members of this Christmas parade attack?” (6/6) pic.twitter.com/dAUvsP64Ff
— Curtis Houck (@CurtisHouck) November 29, 2021
“Well, I would say first: As you saw the president convey last week, our hearts go out to this community, to the people in Waukesha; that we’ve been in touch, obviously, with officials there; and we’re all watching as people are recovering,” Psaki said.
“And this is such a difficult time of year for this to happen. It’s difficult anytime.”
Psaki then prevaricated and hemmed and hawed a bit about how difficult it is for presidents to travel someplace. No trips are currently in the works, “but we remain in touch with local officials.”
Biden visited Minnesota on Tuesday, for crying out loud, to plug the newly signed infrastructure bill.
Air Force One may well have flown directly over Waukesha en route.
The only thing that appears different from those tragic instances and Waukesha is the skin color of the victims and the accused are reversed.
Stopping in Waukesha to comfort the victims’ families works against the Democratic narrative Biden has been pushing his whole presidency: Everything that’s evil and wrong in America is caused by white supremacists.
If that’s the reason, Biden needs to get over it.
He promised unity in his inaugural address, and here’s a good chance to show he cares about all Americans, regardless of the color of their skin.
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