After having two days off for President Biden’s State of the Union and trip to Wisconsin, Thursday brought the return of The Psaki Show and, with the Biden administration still refusing to ban the import of Russian oil, the questions were fierce.
They included a slew from Fox’s Jacqui Heinrich with one presenting Psaki with the notion that the U.S. is “financing” Russia’s “war” against Ukraine “as long as we’re buying Russian oil,” which would square with the fact that oil and gas sales make up 36 percent of its national budget.
Heinrich started, however, by poking holes in the administration’s logic of refusing to expand domestic gas and oil production, but pushing for it in other areas to help drive down the price of goods:
[T]he President as recently as yesterday talked about increasing domestic manufacturing to bring down prices on inflated items like goods, so why not apply the same logic to energy and increase domestic production here?
Psaki stuck to her previous answer, blaming oil companies for allegedly thousands of unused leases.
When Heinrich wondered why there wasn’t anything “the administration could do to get those providers back to pre-pandemic levels,” Psaki did what the White House has done with rising meat prices: blame corporations.
“You think the oil companies don't have enough money to drill on the places that have been pre-approved. I would point that question to them and we can talk about it more tomorrow when you learn more,” Psaki stated, to which Heinrich interjected in between to say she was “just asking.”
Heinrich then moved to the halted Keystone pipeline, but Psaki insisted starting and/or finishing new ventures wouldn’t bring immediate relief. Thankfully, Heinrich saw the problem in that as well as in Psaki’s claim about real relief from the strategic petroleum preserve (click expand”):
HEIRNICH: Do you think that opening the Keystone pipeline and having more energy-friendly policies might do that?
PSAKI: The Keystone pipeline has never been operational. It would take years for that to even have any impact. I know a number of members of congress have suggested that, but that is a proposed solution that has no relationship or would have no impact on what the problem is we all agree is an issue.
HEINRICH: So, during that — those years where it would, you know, take to bring down prices, you're saying, just continue to buy Russian oil?
PSAKI: Well, again, Jacqui, I think you're familiar with a number of steps taken, a historic release from strategic petroleum reserve —
HEINRICH: But that didn’t bring down prices —
PSAKI: — well, we can —
HEINRICH: — last time or this time.
PSAKI: — well, let me finish. What we can do over time and what this is all a reminder of in the President's view is our need to reduce our reliance on oil. The Europeans need to do that. We need to do that. If we do more to invest in clean energy, more to invest in other sources of energy, that's exactly what we can do to prevent this from happening in the future. We welcome any Republicans from joining us in that effort.
Psaki tried to move on, but Heinrich saved the spiciest for last: “[A]s long as we’re buying Russian oil, though, aren't we financing the war?”
Psaki engaged in a bait-and-switch, ignoring Heinrich’s point about money coming into Russia from U.S. oil purchases and instead saying Russian oil only makes up “about ten percent of what we're importing” even though cutting it off “would...raise prices.”
To her credit, Heinrich reached that point thanks to Psaki stonewalling from past questions, starting with two from the AP’s Colleen Long about Putin benefitting from higher prices so long as a ban remains off.
CNN’s Kaitlan Collins was more blatant, asking if the White House’s “moving closer to banning Russian oil imports” and, after Psaki said she didn’t “have any assessment of that,” what’s the point of “waiting if it's ultimately the step the United States is going to take.”
And even after Heinrich, the questions didn’t stop as NBC’s Kristen Welker highlighted the bipartisan support for banning Russian oil as a way of wondering what more does the U.S. government “need to see in order to make a final decision.”
Psaki initially played dumb before insisting they don’t “look at it exactly through that prism” since “we have not held back in taking significant, historic steps that are crippling the Russian economy right now.”
And, in her final briefing before taking over as Weekend Edition host, NPR’s Ayesha Rascoe hinged leftward by adding mentions of the U.S. needing to back more biofuels and purchase “more fuel-efficient cars” (click “expand”):
I know people have asked you a lot about, you know, the price of oil, but I want to come at in a little bit of a different way. The fact is the price of oil is high, is very unlikely to go down anytime soon and more than likely, will go up. What is the — that White House looking at? I know that there was the strategic release of oil, but are there other things that the white house is looking at to help consumers at the pump? Maybe to, you know, direct subsidies, maybe more biofuels, maybe easing the Jones Act. Like, what is the plan for Americans who are going to have to be living with these high oil prices?
What does the White House say to American consumers? Like, should American consumers right now be thinking, “okay, I'm going to have to pay a lot more at the pump going forward?” Should they be taking that into consideration when they're buying cars or, you know, should they try to buy more fuel-efficient cars or saving their money? Like, what should they be doing practically at this moment considering the price of gas is going to affect them?
To see the relevant transcript from March 3's briefing (including one from ABC’s Mary Bruce about kicking Russia off the U.N. Security Council), click here.