On Friday’s episode of The Psaki Show, Fox’s Peter Doocy capped off a busy week with newsy questions about President Biden’s Thursday call with Chinese President Xi Jinping and why is it that millions of Americans are being subjected to President Biden’s rash of Covid vaccine mandates but not illegal immigrants.
Doocy chose to lead with China and Biden’s call and whether Biden “press[ed] [Xi] like he said he was going to” when he said two weeks ago in a statement that China was still hiding “critical information” about the origins of Covid.
Psaki wouldn’t commit to “going...into lists of every topic covered,” but said the virus was one of many “transnational issues” discussed. Doocy twice tried to get a definitive answer, but Psaki said what matters was that they’ve previously “conveyed” the need for more information, so China “know[s]” where they stand.
But the question of the briefing came next when Doocy launched this humdinger: “[W]hy is it that you are trying to record anybody with a job or anybody who goes to school to get the COVID-19 vaccine, but you're not requiring that of migrants that continue walking across the southern border into the country?”
Psaki ignored the question other than saying “our objective is to get as many people vaccinated across the country as humanly possible” with the measures announced Thursday so that “more people are vaccinated” within our borders.
Doocy had another go at it, which led Psaki to give a two-word answer before moving on:
DOOCY: But it’s a requirement for people at a business with more than 100 people and it’s not a requirement for migrants at the southern border. Why?
PSAKI: That's correct.
Before we get into reporters from liberal outlets that had good questions, there were those that, well, did the opposite.
Reuters’s Andrea Shalal burned up almost four minutes with concerns about needing to ensure “9/11 commemorations” include “address[ing] the huge, massive wave of” Islamophobia post-9/11 and then whether the White House is concerned about divisions worsening due to opposition to Biden’s agenda (click “expand”):
With the 9/11 commemorations, can you tell me what you are doing to sort of go back and — and address the huge, massive wave of hate crimes we saw against Arab Americans, Muslim Americans, and those who were taken to be either Arab or Muslim? What is — what is the White House’s plan to address that component of the history of the aftermath of the attacks?
Can I just follow up on that? Just in terms of the unity, so — I tried to as the President today at the — at the event at the school whether he is concerned that his actions, you know, we’ve seen the backlash from Republicans and others in terms of the vaccination mandates, is he concerned that, you know, what’s happening now is actually driving the country further apart, both in terms of the vaccinations — there is a lot of controversy and divisiveness also about Afghanistan and how that was handled. You know, are you — are you worried that at this point the country is getting further apart and all the political ramifications it has in terms of getting your agenda through for Build Back Better?
A few moments later, The New York Times’s Zolan Kanno-Youngs hit Psaki from the left, fretting that these mandates weren’t announced prior to Thursday because “hospitalizations were on the rise” “a month ago” and Delta’s “been a concern for awhile now.”
Towards the back-end of the briefing, Today News Africa reporter Simon Ateba had not one but three questions about whether unvaccinated Americans are showing their “privilege” given the “abundance of vaccines” and thus have condemned themselves to an “early grave” while people in Africa struggle with access to the shots.
Going back to helpful questions, CNN’s Kaitlan Collins asked something what’s likely a lot of Americans wanted to know: “[T]he President has said previously he did not want to mandate the vaccine, so can you explain why his thinking on this has changed?”
Psaki defended the change because there wasn’t a Delta variant circulating with such ferocity, some Americans wanted to wait for one of the vaccines to receive full FDA approval, and the administration “didn’t anticipate” the level of “opposition” to the vaccines once they became “readily, widely available, and free.”
Along with ABC’s Rachel Scott and CBS’s Weijia Jiang receiving non-committal answers on when the mandates will be put into affect, Jiang’s CBS colleague Kathryn Watson questioned Psaki about possible negative impacts on businesses being able to fill openings given the mandates and whether there will be enough at-home Covid tests produced to keep up with demand given new requirements for mandatory testing (click “expand”):
WATSON: Business owners are already voicing concerns they aren't able to find applicants for jobs. There are a record 10.9 million job openings. Is the administration at all concerned that this new vaccine mandate that applies to businesses with 100 or more employees will cause further staffing shortages for businesses?
PSAKI: Well, look, I think, one, there are a number of businesses across the country who have already applied these requirements. And they could be a model. Some of them — I understand you may be asking about smaller businesses, but it’s for employees of 100 or more. And certainly, when the President made the decision to put in place these policies and to announce them yesterday, he made it based on his number one objective, which is to protect people in this country and save more lives. And he also announced yesterday additional assistance for small businesses. That was a part of his plan to ensure they have the assistance they need. But 75 percent of people in this country have been vaccinated — who are eligible have. Know our goal is not to place undue burden. Our goal is to save lives and that ‘s what we hope this will do.
WATSON: To go off of a colleague’s question earlier about rapid tests, which the President mentioned yesterday. He’s going to be using the Defense Production Act to add roughly 280 million of these rapid, at-home tests. But, of course, that’s only — or at least kits — that’s only less than one kit per person in the country. So, what else can be done to ramp up those tests and to bring down the potentially prohibitive cost of these tests if they’re going to be used on a regular basis by Americans?
PSAKI; Well, one of the steps we took was to work with big private-sector retailers to make these tests available. And certainly, that’s the plan for the next three months where we expect there will be a great need. But we will continue to look as there are needs to make sure people in the country have the resources they need. This is not the end, but this is certainly a significant announcement from yesterday. Go —
WATSON: And is there — is there a goal for how many at-home rapid tests should be available beyond the 280 million?
PSAKI: I think announcing the 2 — the numbers we had yesterday is pretty significant. I don't have anything more to preview for you about additional tests.
Doocy also had assists from like-minded reporters at Fox Business Network on Afghanistan and the Daily Caller on Covid.
Edward Lawrence was in the room for FBN and unsuccessfully questioned Psaki on whether “there have been any offers of resignation from anyone in the chain of command or anyone involved in the decisions with the evacuation” of Afghanistan and if Biden “still has confidence in those folks.”
As for the Caller, Shelby Talcott closed out the briefing with a query about whether “the administration consider[s] this latest vaccine mandate for private sector companies to be a workaround for the federal government to require vaccines.”
Psaki all but confirmed it, citing their belief that “we don't have the ability to tell every American” directly that “you have to be vaccinated.”
To see the relevant transcript from September 10's briefing, click here.