Potemkin village: an impressive facade or show designed to hide an undesirable fact or condition.
That's precisely what the Biden administration is up to by only permitting the media to visit "aspirational" HHS facilities housing children crossing the border, while denying media access to CPB facilities where the conditions are very bad. The deceit is too much even for Biden fan Mika Brzezinski, who on today's Morning Joe reluctantly acknowledged that the ruse is "problematic," and wondered out loud:
"Are reporters being used to sell the best part of this? I mean, we gotta see what's going on. Not Nike boxes of new shoes."
Mika was clearly uncomfortable in criticizing the Biden administration. Check the video at 2:02 as she virtually apologized for her criticism, giggling nervously and saying "I know Jen Psaki well." Translation: we're friends. Mika gave air quotes as she spoke of the Biden administration only allowing access to what are described as "aspirational" facilities [see screencap.]
The segment began with NBC Nightly News footage from reporter Gabe Gutierrez, who had been given exclusive media access to visit the Potemkin Village, AKA an "aspirational facility," AKA an HHS facility. Gutierrez described a spacious, well-equipped setting, with no overcrowding and "calm" kids, some playing soccer.
But Gutierrez acknowledged that the real problem is not at HHS facilities, but at the Customs and Border Protection facilities, where the media is not getting access, though some photos of the terrible conditions have leaked out.
A clip was then shown of CNN's Jeff Zeleny questioning Psaki as to why access was only being granted to the "aspirational" facilities. Psaki gave a classic obfuscatory response: "we're also open to providing access there. This is just a first step in providing greater access." Right.
Gutierrez offered a very telling aside, saying that the nice HHS facility that he visited was actually opened in 2019 during the Trump administration, but was "closed two weeks after it opened because there weren't enough children here." In other words, under Trump, the border was under control. Under Biden, it's become a chaotic disaster.
So . . . how hard will the media press President Biden on the subject at his long-delayed first press conference? Will the MSM let him get away with blaming it all on President Trump? NewsBusters is sure to report on the matter later today and tomorrow!
Here's the transcript.
6:10 am EDT
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: A delegation of White House officials and Members of Congress traveled to the southern border yesterday to tour a Health and Human Services facility being used to house migrant children . . . NBC News correspondent Gabe Gutierrez was given exclusive media access to tour that facility, and here's part of his report.
GABE GUTIERREZ: This facility in Carrizo Springs, Texas, is home to 766 unaccompanied minors, all teen boys. Officials say more than 100 have tested positive for Covid. After mounting pressure on the Biden administration, a network camera was allowed inside today. We saw the intake center, where kids are tested for Covid and given duffel bags of clothes. There’s a dining hall, classrooms, and dorm rooms--only four kids each. It was orderly and the children were calm, some wearing hats they knit themselves. We saw kids playing soccer outside.
But the real overcrowding at this point is happening in those Customs and Border Protection facilities. Now the Biden administration has said because of Covid protocols, they weren’t allowing reporters in. Privacy concerns, as well.
. . .
I had been at this facility in 2019. It was actually opened under the Trump administration, then it was shut down a couple weeks after it opened because there weren't enough children here.
MIKA: And of course, there are a lot of questions about access. White House press secretary Jen Psaki yesterday acknowledged that the administration allowed video access to a, quote, aspirational facility, rather than one where conditions are problematic.
JEFF ZELENY: The access being granted today for the pool is of a facility that is aspirational, of where you want to move these children.
JEN PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
ZELENY: What about access to the facilities where there is overcrowding and there is an actual problem. Why was this one chosen over those?
PSAKI: We’re also open to providing access there, and this is just a first step in a process of providing greater access to the media.
. . .
MIKA: So Jonathan Lemire, this is [pauses, nervous giggle], this is problematic. I mean, look, I, I know Jen Psaki well [another nervous laugh], but reporters should be allowed into all the facilities. And when you only allow reporters into the "aspirational" ones [displays air quotes, see screencap], it leads to more questions, like, are reporters being used to sort of sell the best part of this? We gotta see what’s going on. Not Nike boxes of new shoes.