Monday’s White House press briefing quickly became an epic messaging embarrassment for the the Biden administration as, under questioning from the Fox News Channel’s Peter Doocy, Press Secretary Jen Psaki argued that Republicans (and not Democrats) have defunded the police and gave the White House’s blessing to America-hating Olympian Gwen Barry.
After a short exchange on President Biden’s muddled stance on the bipartisan infrastructure agreement, Doocy started with the Defund the Police movement, calling out comments from senior adviser Cedric Richmond that said Republicans had defunded the police by not supporting the stimulus boondoggle that masqueraded as coronavirus relief.
“But how is it that that is an argument to be made when the President never mentioned needing money for police to stop a crime wave when he was selling the American Rescue Plan,” wondered Doocy.
Incredibly, Psaki doubled down on the spin, saying that Republicans do indeed not support keeping police “on the beat in communities across the country” because they refused to vote for “the American Rescue Plan” and its “funding” to “help ensure local cops” kept their jobs.
Doocy called out the fact that this wasn’t the supposed focus of the package and has nothing to do with supporting police amidst a crime wave, but Psaki refused to rejoin reality (click “expand”):
DOOCY: But at the time, that was sold as — these local police departments might have a pandemic-related budget shortfall, not we need to keep cops on the beat because there's a crime wave.
PSAKI: I think that any local department would argue that keeping cops on the beat to keep communities safe when they had to, because of budget shortfalls, fire police is — is something that helped them address crime —
DOOCY: Yet —
PSAKI: — in their local communities.
DOOCY: — but those in local communities — the White House's argument was the American Rescue Plan is going to be $1,400 checks. It's going to be vaccines, vaccinators, we’re — it's gonna put us on the path to beating the virus, not —
PSAKI: It did those things as well. It was a pretty good bill and piece of legislation.
Psaki tried to move on, but Doocy interjected to ask a final question and it concerned the anti-American, far-left hammer-throwing athlete Gwen Barry’s third-place finish in the U.S. Olympic Trials (which put her on the Olympic team) and turning her back on the flag when the Star-Spangled Banner was played.
Asked whether Biden thought that was “appropriate behavior for someone who hopes to represent Team USA,” Psaki gave the administration’s full support for Barry because she’s someone who should be “respect[ed]” since she “recogniz[es] there are moments where we are — as a country, haven't lived up to our highest ideals.”
Elsewhere, numerous liberal journalists went full Chicken Little over the Delta variant of the coronavirus, suggesting there needed to be a return to restrictions for all Americans and discourage people from having Fourth of July gatherings.
Reuters’s Andrea Shalal went first, fretting that the National Mall would be opened up with the White House “planning a really large party” for the holiday despite “reports now of increasing cases of Delta — the Delta variant” and those that had the Johnson & Johnson vaccine might soon “need a booster shot.”
Shalal continued to lobby on behalf of the forever-lockdown crowd, but to her credit, Psaki wasn’t having it (click “expand”):
SHALAL: Is this too soon? Are you — are you being risky by basically allowing many, many people to get to the National Mall on the Fourth of July? Do — is there a risk that you could be, in essence doing exactly what, you know, was — was criticized by the Trump administration —
PSAKI: Well —
SHALAL: — creating large gatherings that are risky?
PSAKI: — let me — let me first say that we have been — our North star has been data, has been scientists, has been the advice of our medical experts, uh, at every point since the President took office. And just a few factual details. I'm not — I'm just saying in addition to you — to what you conveyed, the majority of Delta cases are in people who are unvaccinated. We may see some vaccinated people who test positive for Covid, of course, as we know from the data. But those people often have mild symptoms, remain out of the hospital, um, and the best way we continue to convey to people across the country to protect yourself is to get vaccinated, including and specifically, the percentage — the higher percentage of young people — people under the age of 27, who are at a lower rate of vaccination than people who are over that age, So I would say we, of course, will continue to evaluate any steps that need to be taken to protect the public, protect the American people. But we have made significant progress and we are confident in our plans moving forward for July 4th.
SHALAL: Is there anything that would change your mind? I mean, if we see a spike over the next few days, is there any chance that you could — could change the plans or — or curb it or limit it in some way?
PSAKI: I don’t —
SHALAL: I mean, especially cause the people who are coming to events like this do tend to be young people.
PSAKI: — I don't anticipate at this point our plans changing. We, of course, are always driven by the advice of our health and medical experts. But, beyond that. I don't anticipate that at this point.
Politico’s Anita Kumar was also on the case, inquiring about a return “to normal” at the White House and whether those attending the Fourth of July celebration should have to “be tested,” “vaccinated,” and wear “masks even though it’s outdoors.”
National Journal’s George Condon joined the cause with the angle about frequent testing of White House officials to supposedly ensure the safety of the President (regardless of one’s vaccination status).
Aside from those two topics, The Grio’s April Ryan hit Psaki from the left, griping that there’s “concern” there’s bipartisan cooperation on police reform legislation and it could “backfire” because the GOP “[doesn’t] want civil rights” and thus could hurt whatever becomes law.
To see the relevant briefing transcript from June 28, click here.