Thursday’s Psaki Show reminded viewers of a sad but necessary reminder that too many in the liberal media will never relent on fear porn surrounding the coronavirus and their penchant for restrictions on everyday life. Such was the case with numerous reporters pushing the press secretary from the left to reinstitute them due to a new omicron variant and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff’s positive test.
The AP’s Zeke Miller started off the Q&A with a question as to when President Biden was last tested in light of Emhoff’s diagnosis and that of the Irish Prime Minister (whom he was supposed to meet with) and, when Psaki said the last test was on Sunday, Miller offered a long-winded commentary masquerading as a question.
Griping about the degree to which Biden’s medical team is deeming a “close contact,” he said it’s worth drilling down on because “this is something that people around the country are dealing with on a daily basis” and if any future positive test for the President and/or First Lady would be seen as “a failure” or “fact of life.”
The Wall Street Journal’s Tarini Parti came back to this later on, suggesting Biden be “test[ed]...every day at this point...out of an abundance of caution...because he’s the President.”
Invoking Biden’s age, Bloomberg’s Jennifer Epstein asked if the lack of a fervent response was a signal to Americans that “[y]ou can get back to living your normal lives, and you shouldn’t be concerned...if you get exposed” even though “COVID...might be more serious” for someone of Biden’s age.
A reliably liberal voice in the room, The Washington Post’s Matt Viser shoed it when he questioned whether Biden’s “behavior” should be “changing” or “precautions” added as he’s heading to Europe
And finally in the stupid category, Politico correspondent and MSNBC host Jonathan Lemire wanted to know about any “precautions and preparations” the federal government’s “taking...and encouraging states to take ahead of a possible new COVID wave” and would hit the U.S. hard because it’s “coming at a moment when a lot of Americans are seeing waning protection from their boosters.”
In the non-COVID but still mind-numbing category, NPR’s Scott Detrow had a softball about the “ceremonial” side of the presidency, McClatchy’s Bryan Lowry teed up more attacks against Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO), and VOA’s Patsy Widakuswara compared Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to Israel taking in the Golan Heights (click “expand”):
DETROW: Given the fact that the President very much likes to share his pride of the Iri — his Irish heritage but also the fact that —
PSAKI: He does.
DETROW: — so many ceremonial —
PSAKI: “More Irish than Irish.” Is that what he said? “Irish Americans consider themselves more Irish.” I think that’s true. I will confirm that. Go ahead.
DETROW: — but like that, and also the fact that so many of the ceremonial parts of the job —
DETROW: — have been canceled over the past year, I’m wondering: Did he express particular frustration or sadness that the Oval meeting had to become yet another Zoom meeting today?
LOWRY: A follow-up on your point about Senator Hawley. Obviously, he’s consistently voted against the President’s nominees. I don’t think he was a swing vote you guys were counting on. However, will his criticism, will the explosiveness of this line of attack — do you worry that it will affect your ability to win over other Republican votes? Is there any concern about this campaign upping the pressure on, say, Senators Collins and Murkowski, who may be more amenable to voting for Jackson?
WIDAKUSWARA: As the administration continues to condemn and take action against Russia’s invasion on Ukraine, are there any plans to revisit, review, revoke the Trump administration’s recognition of Israel’s annexation on the Golan Heights and Morocco’s annexation of Western Sahara?
PSAKI: I don’t have any updates on that front. I’d point to the State Department.
WIDAKUSWARA: But at this point, can you — can you describe just the administration’s position on the difference between Russia’s invasion on Ukraine and Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights?
PSAKI: I’d point you to the State Department.
Thankfully, Fox’s Jacqui Heinrich used her time to pin Psaki down on the hypocrisy of heavily sanctioning and denouncing Russia as war criminals while welcoming their help on a new Iran Deal.
In response, Psaki offered a combination of reminding her “we don’t have a deal at this point” and it’s in America’s national security interest to do everything possible to keep Iran from “acquir[ing] a nuclear weapon...despite the efforts by former President Trump to pull us out of the deal.”
Thankfully, Real Clear Politics’s Philip Wegmann later followed up (click “expand”):
HEINRICH: The President called Putin a “war criminal” yesterday. The Secretary of State just said that that was also his view today. So, given all of that, why are we still having Putin’s Russia broker the Iran nuclear deal talks?
PSAKI: Well, I would say that it’s not in our interest for Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon and Russia is a member of the P5+1. So, that is the pursuit of a deal that would be in our national security interests.
HEINRICH: So, basically we’re just stuck working with him?
PSAKI: Well, again, I think how the President and any of the P5+1 partners or Europeans or others look at this is: If we can achieve a diplomatic solution where we prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon — despite the efforts by former President Trump to pull us out of the deal, allowing Iran to move far — move closer to acquiring a nuclear weapon, that would be good for our national security and good for global security around the world.
HEINRICH: And then, has the IGRC — or — done any — or rather, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the IRGC — has it done anything to be eligible to be removed from the terror blacklist?
PSAKI: Well, I think you’re asking me this because it’s been out there as a possible discussion, but there’s no deal at this point. So, if and when there’s a deal, we’ll have a discussion about what’s in the deal.
HEINRICH: Outside of the deal, though, does it take action to be removed from that terror blacklist? Do you have to do something to get off of it?
PSAKI: You have to make a decision, yes.
WEGMANN: If the U.S. plans to still engage with Russia on the Iran nuclear deal and perhaps some of these other climate initiatives, what does President Biden expect Russia to bring to the table? I know what the goal is — that we don’t want Iran to have a nuclear weapon — but how does the President think that Putin will be helpful after the President rightfully turns him into a pariah on the global stage?
PSAKI: As it relates to the Iran nuclear deal? I think that our view on this is that it’s not, obviously, in our interest and it’s not in Russia’s interests either for Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon and so, while these negotiations — I mean, the people are back in their capitals at this point in time, as you know, but they’re, for all intensive purposes, ongoing. There have been roles and implementation that Russia has had in the past, but I think what we recognize is that it’s not in their interest either and we will consider — continue pursuing the diplomatic path forward.
And, later in the briefing, Wegmann and the Daily Mail’s Rob Crilly asked about The New York Times reporting about Hunter Biden’s laptop.
To see the relevant transcript from March 17's briefing (including a question from FBN’s Edward Lawrence on a call from progressives to ban U.S. oil exports), click here.