OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki had an eventful last day on the job defending President Joe Biden from what, to many, appears indefensible.
At Friday’s briefing Psaki spoke about Republicans who are complaining because they believe that illegal immigrants are getting baby formula when Americans cannot.
“Congresswoman Elise Stefanik — and she tweeted something I will read to you — but several other Republican politicians have also gone along this line. She says, “Joe Biden continues to put America last by shipping pallets of baby formula to the southern border as American families face empty shelves.” She says, “This is unacceptable.” Do you have a response to that?” a reporter said to the press secretary.
“Well, we do like facts here, so let me just give you a little sense of the facts on this one. There’s something called the Flores statemen- — Settlement, which she may or may not be aware of, that’s been in place since 1997. It requires adequate food and elsewhere, specifies age appropriateness, hence formula for kids under the age of one,” the press secretary said.
“CBP is following the law — that law that has been in place and been followed, by the way, by the past — every administration since 1997.
“So this has been a law in the United States for a quarter century. It’s been followed by every administration. And on — but I would also note that we also think it’s morally the right thing to do. You know, and this is a difference from the last administration. It is the law, but we believe that when children and babies — or babies, I should say, are crossing the border with a family member, that providing them formula — formula is morally right. And so we certainly support the implementation of it,” she said.
But that was only part of her rough day.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki had an eventful final briefing as she was heckled off the podium on her last day.
It happened on Friday, Psaki’s last day on the job, when Today News Africa White House correspondent Simon Ateba shouted about fair access in the briefing room.
“Why don’t you take questions from across the room?” he shouted as Associated Press reporter Zeke Miller was asking about the ongoing baby formula shortage.
“Why don’t you take questions from across the room? Because that’s not what you’ve done for the past 15 months,” he said again.
Psaki and the other reporters initially ignored him but he continued to shout during the briefing.
“Jen, can I ask you a question from the back?” he shouted. “Jen, can I ask you a question from the back?”
That got NPR reporter Tamara Keith to look at him and implore him to stop.
But Ateba was undeterred as he continued shouting until he got a response from Psaki, who has been criticized in the past for only taking questions from reporters in the front of the room.
“Simon, if you can respect your colleagues and other media and reporters in here, that would be greatly appreciated,” she said.
And this week Psaki spoke out about old tweets from incoming White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre in which she claimed the 2016 presidential election and 2018 election for governor of Georgia were stolen.
“Stolen emails, stolen drone, stolen election …..welcome to the world of #unpresidented Trump,” she said in December 2016.
Stolen emails, stolen drone, stolen election …..welcome to the world of #unpresidented Trump https://t.co/NI7vqPV6cu
— Karine Jean-Pierre (@K_JeanPierre) December 18, 2016
“Reminder: Brian Kemp stole the gubernatorial election from Georgians and Stacey Abrams,” she said in April 2020.
Reminder: Brian Kemp stole the gubernatorial election from Georgians and Stacey Abrams.https://t.co/ZIKGTd6U1v
— Karine Jean-Pierre (@K_JeanPierre) April 2, 2020
When speaking of the tweet on the election of Gov. Brian Kemp in Georgia Psaki said to Mediate, “We all agree the 2018 election in Georgia is settled. And we’re also all concerned about voter suppression issues, including the President. Kemp won and she sees that tweet as having oversimplified the problem.”
And on the 2016 presidential election Psaki said, Jean-Pierre “has affirmed that Donald Trump won in 2016, too. Like so many of us, Karine was concerned about the U.S. intelligence community’s unanimous finding that Russia intervened to help Trump. But he won.”
“Just like four years later Joe Biden won the most votes of anyone in American history,” she said. “She’s aligned with the President that people should admit who won regardless of preference.”
But there was also the issue of the new press secretary in an old clip when she appeared on MSNBC calling Fox News, who she will now have to work with on a near daily basis, a “racist” organization.
It came on March 15, 2020 when Jean-Pierre appeared on the MSNBC show “AM Joy,” with host Joy Reid on a panel that included Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin and former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele as they were talking about Fox News’ coverage of what was then the new COVID-19 pandemic.
“Fox News was racist before #coronavirus, they are racist during coronavirus, and Fox News will be racist after the coronavirus,” she said on Twitter, sharing a clip of her appearance.
"Fox News was racist before #coronavirus, they are racist during coronavirus, and Fox News will be racist after the coronavirus" @JoyAnnReid #AMJoy #MSNBC #SundayMorning pic.twitter.com/0oOQWqkSE8
— Karine Jean-Pierre (@K_JeanPierre) March 15, 2020
During the interview she called the network “racist” and accused them of endangering the lives of Asian-Americans.
“[Fox News] was racist before coronavirus, they are racist during the coronavirus, Fox News will be racist after the coronavirus. So there is nothing new here. I think the difference is they are all-in on being state TV for Donald Trump, and so they will continue to give the misinformation,” she said.
“The danger is, so yes, you have Asian Americans right now whose lives are seriously in danger. And, you have their own viewers who can now, the ones who are 60 and older who are watching, this is a health crisis that we’re in, this is a global pandemic, as the WHO have said, and they’re putting their lives in dangers,” the incoming press secretary said.
“What they’re putting out there is going to hurt people, and not help them,” she said.
Psaki again defended the new press secretary.
“This is a years-old clip of Karine, referring to an opinion host – not a reporter – when she was not in government and not speaking on behalf of the president,” she said.
“As she has shown at the White House many times already, including in the Briefing Room, she will continue to follow the guidance of the President in engaging with a range of reporters from a broad range of outlets, including Fox, even when there are different points of view,” she said.