Yet again, reminding viewers that they’re scared to death of Governor Ron DeSantis (R-FL), White House reporters and the Biden administration played off each other during Tuesday’s press briefing and presidential press conference to lob barbs at DeSantis for refusing to bring back mask mandates and/or threaten to bring back Covid restrictions from 2020.
And on the resignation of Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-NY), CNN’s Kaitlan Collins got into a surprising back-and-forth with President Biden after he praised Cuomo for having “done a hell of a job” as governor.
NBC’s Peter Alexander began launching the DeSantis attacks during the press briefing by asking Press Secretary Jen Psaki about what the White House made of the idea that Florida school officials could have their pay docked if they imposed mask mandates and if DeSantis and his state could be punished.
Soon after, he was joined by CBS’s Ed O’Keefe and The Washington Post’s Annie Linskey (click “expand”):
ALEXANDER: I want to ask you about infrastructure in a second. So, on the news on COVID and Delta right now, governor DeSantis in Florida, as you know, is now threatening to withhold salaries of school board members and superintendents in districts who do not comply with his order outlawing mask mandates at schools. What’s the White House’s take on that?
ALEXANDER: So, in simple terms, what does the White House say directly to Governor DeSantis about this — about this threatened punishment?
O’KEEFE: On the DeSantis Florida situation, you mentioned the relief money that’s heading to Florida. Are you guys aware of any mechanism you could use to withhold federal funds from Florida, if the governor keeps up this kind of activity?
O’KEEFE: So, you could — you are looking into a workaround, if need be, if the governor withholds funds?
LINSKEY: And I just wanted to follow up on questions by my colleagues, Peter Alexander and Ed O’Keefe on COVID and Florida in particular. When you were talking about federal funds being used in some way to affect an outcome with the state school districts, can you describe whether you’re talking about sort of paying these funds directly to the school districts, or you’re talking about withholding funds? Like what is sort of the flow of funding and what is the amount that we’re talking about?
LINSKEY: And just quickly, is this limited to Florida, or are there other states and school districts where there are similar dynamics at play?
Fast-forward to the 3:00 p.m. Eastern hour and Alexander was at it again on DeSantis as he asked Biden whether he has “presidential powers to intervene in states like Texas and Florida, where they were banning mask mandates.”
While Biden said he doesn’t “believe that” he has the power to nullify state measures, Biden implied that DeSantis and Governor Greg Abbott (R-TX) have seen no reason to do anything to protect young children from contracting Covid and going on a ventilator.
Linskey also appeared during the Biden Q&A and focused on Covid, but she implied the Biden administration should have been more aggressive in using “mitigation measures” (i.e. things we saw in 2020) to stop the Delta variant.
Over on the Cuomo front, Alexander, O’Keefe, and the AP’s Darlene Superville questioned Psaki about Cuomo, but the real fun came during Biden’s Q&A a few hours later (and seeing as how Psaki offered little more than word salad).
Alexander and Superville had benign Cuomo probes, but O’Keefe was onto something when he laid a trap for Biden by asking him to assess his performance on policy.
Biden twice replied that Cuomo did “a hell of a job,” adding that he meant it “on everything from access to voting, to infrastructure, to a whole range of things.”
CNN’s Kaitlan Collins realized the insanity of this endorsement amid the claims he sexually assaulted and harassed at least 11 women.
When he pointed out this disconnect, Biden went berserk (click “expand”):
COLLINS: Can I quickly follow up on your comment on Governor Cuomo? Can you really say that he has done a, “hell of a job” if he’s accused of sexually harassing women on the job?
BIDEN: Look, you asked two different questions. You asked the substantive, should he remain as governor is one question. And women should be believed when they make accusations that are able to, on the face of them, make sense, and investigate it, they’re investigated and the judgment was made that what they said was correct. That’s one thing. The question is, did he do a good job on infrastructure? That was the question. He did.
COLLINS: Well, the question was how did he do as a governor if he’s accused of sexually harassing women?
BIDEN: No, the question was, correct me if I’m wrong.
O’KEEFE: About how was he as a governor, generally?
BIDEN: As a governor, generally, obviously.
O’KEEFE: Outside of his personal behavior.
BIDEN: Outside his personal behavior. Okay.
COLLINS: But can you separate the two since he was —
BIDEN: No, I’m not. I was asked a specific question. I’m trying to answer specific.
Talk about a dangerous attack on the free press and democracy dying in darkness.
To see the relevant transcript from the briefing and presser (including questions from Fox’s Peter Doocy on inflation and immigration and The New York Times’s Zolan Kanno-Youngs on the latter topic), click here.