Tuesday marked the first White House press briefing of 2023 and, in her ninth month as press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre continued to stammer and stonewall her way through even the most benign questions. Meanwhile, Fox’s Peter Doocy kept up the heat by wondering whether anyone in the White House could say with a straight face whether “the southern border is secure” and if President Biden lied about not being involved in his family’s corruption.
After some friendly banter about the upcoming due date of Doocy’s wife Hillary Vaughn of Fox Business, Doocy cut to the chase: “Does anybody around here think that the southern border is secure?”
Jean-Pierre didn’t offer anything new and wouldn’t even directly answer the question (though she had used the word “secure” in the past): “What I can tell you is: This is a President who has been working since day one to work on border security, to make immigration a priority. That’s why he put forth a comprehensive immigration reform plan”.
She went onto offer more boilerplate nonsense, lamenting that while Biden has “solutions...Republicans...are doing political stunts”.
Shortly after Jean-Pierre insisted the surge at the border has been “an issue that the President has taken very, very seriously since day one”, Doocy spoke for many listening in disgust (click “expand”):
DOOCY: But roughly 7,000 migrants crossing every day illegally. Does the White House believe the border is secure?
JEAN-PIERRE: Look, I’ve told you what we have done, what we have made this a priority to make sure —
DOOCY: The things that you have done, are they working?
JEAN-PIERRE: — to make sure that there’s border security measures. Look —
DOOCY: And is it working?
JEAN-PIERRE: But, look, here’s the thing, Peter: The President has taken historic actions — right — that no other President has been able to do. When you think about the 23,000 agents that he’s been able — we have been able to put out there to deal with the issue that we’re seeing at the border, and that is something that he did without a lot of Republican support — right — make sure that we are dealing with a real issue.
Once Jean-Pierre finished her droning, Doocy pivoted to the Biden family’s shady foreign business dealings getting rich off of their famous patriarch: “The House Oversight Committee is laying out their new investigations, and they claim to have evidence that Joe Biden lied to the American people about his involvement in his family’s business schemes. Did he?”
Jean-Pierre adopted the Clinton and liberal media playbook, playing off the pathetic notion that the Biden family is chock full of innocuous, private citizens by stating in part:
House Republicans promised that fighting inflation during the midterms was going to be their number one priority. That’s what they said was important to them, and that’s what they said that they wanted to do, but instead, what they’re doing is wanting to do an investigation on the President and his family. That is their focus. They don’t want to focus on the American people and their family; they want to focus on political division. They want to focus on something that the American people do not want to see, as we saw from the midterm elections.
Elsewhere in the briefing, CBS’s Weijia Jiang had two questions on whether Pete Buttigieg’s Transportation Department made any changes between the airline crises in the summer and winter. And, after Doocy, Bloomberg’s Josh Wingrove checked in on whether the White House has given back its donations from lefty mega-donor and disgraced former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried (click “expand”):
JIANG: After we saw thousands of flights over the summer be canceled and delayed, we heard a very similar sentiment that you just said from Secretary Buttigieg that we have to put more pressure on the airlines; that, you know, he thought that things would get better by the holidays; that you’re pressing the airlines for better service. What did the administration do between those failures and the failures we saw over the holidays to try to make things better?
JIANG: Congressman Ro Khanna said that “This mess with Southwest could have been avoided.” And, you know, he questioned why his recommendations to Buttigieg six months ago were not followed. Do you have any response to either of those things?
WINGROVE: Last week’s visitor log release showed a most recent meeting between Sam Bankman-Fried and a White House official, Steve Ricchetti. In this case, this was his fourth meeting of the year. I’m wondering, given this is the first briefing since then, if you can give us any sort of summary of what has been discussed in Mr. Bankman-Fried’s meetings with the White House over the course of the year.
WINGROVE: You said that you — you couldn’t comment on whether the President has any view about whether Democrats or Democrat-aligned groups should consider returning some of the donations Mr. Bankman-Fried made. I’m just circling back on that to see whether that’s still the case.
Vaughn’s colleague Edward Lawrence was in the Fox Business seat and asked whether Biden was going to “take credit for the gas prices rising over the last seven days” seeing as how he “took credit when [they] were coming down.” Not surprisingly, Jean-Pierre said they weren’t concerned as the rise stemmed from winter weather.
TheGrio’s April Ryan made sure to offer two softballs to her friend Karine amid the litany of process questions and the above hardballs:
What do you say to the American public as we’re still figuring out what’s happening on Capitol Hill? And this is not just about a vote. It could be a constitutional issue.
But how do you reassure? How does the other side of Pennsylvania Avenue reassure the American public as the democracy is going through growing pains? Some may say there are cracks in the democracy. How does this White House reassure the American public as all of this is going on?
To see the relevant transcript from January 3’s briefing, click here.