It was a tale of two approaches during Monday’s White House press briefing as Fox’s Peter Doocy and select reporters (including even CNN’s Jeremy Diamond) chose to challenge Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Afghanistan, illegal immigration, travel bans, and U.S.–France relations while CNN analyst April Ryan led another group in standing up for Haitian illegal immigrants and spreading fake news about border officials using whips.
First up, Diamond was somehow caught up in an invasion of the body snatchers as he had two hardballs for Psaki about President Biden failing to live up to his promise to restore America’s global credibility (click “expand”):
DIAMOND: And then just on the foreign policy front with the U.N. visit tomorrow, President Biden came in to office declaring that America is back, and vowing to reinvigorate U.S. alliances, but in recent weeks, we’ve seen European allies be unsettled by the excecution of the U.S.’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, the administration has admitted to mistakenly killing ten civilians in this drone strike, and now, U.S.’s oldest ally, France, has recalled its ambassador after being blindsided by this submarine deal with Australia. So, my question to you is: How is the President going to restore U.S. credibility at the U.N. this week after all that?
DIAMOND: But just given what’s happened in the recent weeks and some of the criticism he’s faced in many of the capitals of the allies whose partnerships he plans to — you know, and reinvigorate, does he believe there’s work to be done to restore that credibility — or — or — you know, to address —
PSAKI: Is there a country —
DIAMOND: — the criticism that —
PSAKI: — well, tell me which — which — which country is telling you that we don't have credibility in the world?
DIAMOND: I didn't say countries that are saying there’s no credibility. But there has been criticism in foreign capitals in recent weeks, including with many of those partners who the President said he’s going to invigorate these allies. So, how does he square what’s happened?
Thankfully, Diamond received an assist later in The Psaki Show from NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell: “[D]oes the President go into UNGA knowing that his relationship with allies has hit a bumpy patch?”
It wasn’t long after Diamond’s first effort that Ryan began shouting, but Psaki first let ABC’s MaryAlice Parks have a turn, who wanted to know what was “the White House’s message to Haitians immigrants seeking asylum” and whether there’s “a place for them.”
Ryan did get her turn and she sought to play the race card between Black and Middle Eastern people, demanding Haitians receive “equal treatment and fairness” on par with Afghans who’ve been allowed “to come in.”
For those of us in reality, there’s quite a big reason why Afghans were being allowed in (with it having been due to U.S. ineptitude).
Doocy eventually got a turn and led with using Psaki’s own comments about America’s “over the horizon capacity” against her seeing as how “you guys didn't kill people who went after our troops” but instead droned to death “10 civilians, including seven children.”
A Psaki word salad and follow-up about bringing family members of those killed into the country, Doocy brought the heat with this inconvenient truth about the border: “Is somebody asking the foreign nationals who are walking into Del Rio, Texas and setting up camps on this side of the border for proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test?”
Psaki tried to wiggle out of it, but Doocy wasn’t having it: “[I]f somebody walks into the country, right across the river, does somebody ask them to see their vaccination card?”
The spokeswoman lobbed meaningless claims about health screenings and quarantines and even had the gall to claim that the tens of thousands at the border weren’t “intending to stay here for a lengthy period of time.”
With an incredulous look on his face, Doocy called this out, but Psaki shamelessly plugged along by talking about Title 42 being used to expel migrants (even though only single males are being deported with the others all being allowed to fan out across the U.S.).
Before ending on vaccine boosters, Doocy wondered about Vice President Harris: “Where’s the Vice President on any of this? Wasn’t she supposed to be addressing the root causes of migration?”
Psaki hilariously replied that Harris “has been addressing the root causes of migration by working with countries in the region” and “[w]e’ve actually seen a reduction in some of those numbers.”
Also on the Fox beat, Fox Business Network’s Edward Lawrence finished the briefing with a simple question about when will President Biden have a press conference. To that, Psaki said people should be happy with where things are because he “took questions probably four or five times last week.”
Elsewhere on the helpful beat, Bloomberg’s Jennifer Jacobs and NPR’s Tamara Keith pressed Psaki on specifics about the lifting of overseas travel restrictions, but as usual, Psaki didn’t have much for them.
But as stated at the top, other reporters were standing up for illegal immigrants. McClatchy’s Bryan Lowry first gave oxygen to the false claims that “border agents on horseback” are “using what appear to be whips on Haitian migrants.”
“Does the administration view that as an appropriate tactic? Can you speak to that? There are people that are upset,” he added.
Psaki said she didn’t have the full context” and would investigate even though “I can’t imagine what context would make that appropriate,” but that didn’t set right with a shouting Ryan.
Psaki initially ignored her, but not the narrative as Yamiche Alcindor used her post at the taxpayer-funded PBS to stand up for Haitians and not Americans suffering in border towns. The White House official pushed through both of their questions only have a Voice of America reporter suggest there’s racism at the border (click “expand”):
ALCINDOR: I want to follow up on the question about Haitians and, specifically, these — these photos that are surfacing on Border Patrol agents seemingly using whips. I know you said that there’s no context that it would be seen as appropriate, so the question really is: Why would this be happening under the Biden administration? Is this going to stop? What would — I wonder sort of what are the consequences if what we’re seeing is what we’re seeing?
PSAKI: I mean, Yamiche, it’s all good questions. We just saw this footage. It’s horrible to watch. I just have to get more information.
RYAN: If it’s true, will anyone be fired?
ALCINDOR: Can I ask — can I ask a follow-up?
PSAKI: April, April. I don’t — I don't have more information on it. I’ve also seen the video, I can't imagine what the scenario is where it would be appropriate. I’m certainly not suggesting that. But we’ve just seen the footage earlier this morning.
ALCINDOR: And if I can also ask. I was talking to Haitian American advocates this weekend. They say that deporting people back to Haiti is like dropping people into a burning house, this idea that the country is just not in a place where it can handle this. Haiti’s — Haitian officials have said can you please have a pause on this. Is there any sort of discussion being made to make exemptions for some of the migrants? If so, who would these people be? Or are all of these people just going to end up dropped back in Haiti?
ALCINDOR: And a quick follow-up on the — on the photo. I know you said you’re still assessing it. But just to add, if this is what we see, is it the President's stance or the White House's stance that whoever these border agents are using what seems to be whips on migrants, that they would be fired or at least never able to do that again?
PSAKI: Of course, they should never be able to do that again. I don't know the circumstances would be. It’s obviously horrific the footage. I don't have anymore information on that, so let me venture to do that —
RYAN: But why won’t you say fired?
PSAKI: — to see if there’s more to convey.
RYAN: Jen, why don’t you say fired?
PSAKI [TO KAREN TRAVERS]: Go ahead, Karen.
RYAN: If they are deport —
PSAKI: I think —
RYAN: — this is a humanitarian issue.
PSAKI: — April, I absolutely understand your question and I think I have been very clear how horrific the footage is. I don’t have any more information. As a U.S. official, it’s — I have a responsibility to get more context and information.
VOA REPORTER: Following up on Haiti, some of the Haitian migrants at the border told VOA that they were treated worse than their Spanish-speaking counterparts, they were denied the opportunity to change clothing, that they were not given adequate information on their deportation or their deportation statues. And one guy said it was like being in jail. No food, nothing. You know, what is your response to this? Is this policy and, just secondly, Haitian Americans say this mass deportation and this treatment of people that border is — is the President going back on campaign promises to their community.
PSAKI: In which campaign promise?
VOA REPORTER: To help them, um, kind of get over some of the challenges facing Haitian and also to help people migrant to the U.S.
To see the relevant briefing transcript from September 20, click here.