Politics

Jen Psaki stomps out right-wing reporter’s jumbled questions & absurd Kamala Harris claim

Press Secretary Jen Psaki taking questions on May 7, 2021
Press Secretary Jen PsakiPhoto: Screenshot/White House

At yesterday’s White House Press briefing, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki took a series of questions from a conservative media press reporter. The reporter tried to claim that several unnamed people are questioning why the Biden administration has appointed alum of the Obama administration, or allows Vice President Kamala Harris (D) to be involved in meetings with heads of state.

Psaki saw right through the reporter’s attempt to to feed the narrative that President Joe Biden (D) is not in charge of his administration, as well as her follow-up question promoting conspiracy theories about the origin of the coronavirus.

Related: Jen Psaki claps back at evangelical reporter whining about Biden’s lack of “unity”

The questions came from White House Correspondent Emerald Robinson, the White House Correspondent for Newsmax TV, a conservative news network that continually supported baseless claims of election fraud in the 2020 election and refused to even recognize Joe Biden as the winner of the election for months.

Newsmax TV has openly attempted to appeal to Trump’s base and position itself as the actual news channel for the right, as opposed to the more widespread Fox News Channel.

“Given the number of former Obama administration officials that are now in this Biden administration, and the President’s relatively light schedule, there’s a growing perception that this is really just the third term of President Obama,” Robinson asked Psaki. “What do you say to people who say that?”

Psaki, an Obama administration alum herself, responded, “who was saying that? Who’s saying that?”

“You’ve heard that a lot in the media,” Robinson assumptively shot back.

“Who in the media?” asked Psaki.

Robinson stumbled to respond, saying “different people.”

“Like who?” Psaki persisted.

Robinson couldn’t cite anyone, then tried to back up the question, but somehow citing Vice President Kamala Harris as the reason people think Biden is just continuing the Obama administration.

“You’ve heard that a lot of the media, in the media, different people, like, while there was lots of questions about when you had Japanese Prime Minister [Yoshihide] Suga here… it was Vice President Kamala Harris who greeted the Prime Minister, and many people found that odd,” Robinson said in part.

“Well, it’s hard to react when I don’t know what people are talking about,” Psaki said as Robinson still couldn’t name the “people” she was talking about. “I will say that the President met with the Prime Minister, as you know and had a full meeting, a full press conference afterwards, and they even shared a meal.”

Psaki added, “the President has had dozens of conversations and calls with world leaders and should be no surprise that the Vice President is also playing an important role in engaging with and having discussions with foreign leaders.”

Robinson then claimed that Harris’s presence was “more so than other vice presidents have” been in office.

“How so? I’d love to see the data if you want to send that to me.”

All kinds of media pundits and commentators on the right have repetitively suggested since the election that Joe Biden is not actually in charge as President, and is really just a figurehead, either as a continuation of the Obama administration — which he served as Vice President in — or because current Vice President Harris is really leading in the White House.

Several administrations bring in experienced officials from previous administrations when they are tasked to the thousands of Presidential-appointed positions in the Cabinet and executive departments.

In recent times, it has become increasingly common to appoint people from the last administration under that party. For example, Trump appointed a number of people that served during the Bush era, like out official Richard Grenell.

Robinson then moved on to a question that lends credence to the conspiracy theory that the coronavirus is a bioweapon intentionally crafted by China and originating from a lab in Wuhan.

“It’s a matter of public record that Dr. [Anthony] Fauci and the NIH funded gain-of-function experimentation [and] research at the Wuhan Lab of Virology,” Robinson’s loaded question began. “Given the questions about that lab, why would Dr. Fauci and the U.S. fund that kind of experiments, that kind of research at a Chinese lab?”

“I’m happy to send you to the NIH about more specifics of what program they funded and more details of that,” said Psaki.

She then moved on to another reporter, but Robinson wanted to continue to ask questions along the line of suggesting that Dr. Fauci is trying to continue spreading coronavirus.

“The President hasn’t really weighed in,” Robinson said, trying to get Psaki to come out in support of claims that coronavirus is lab-grown by Chinese labs. “…Who does the President agree with — Dr. Fauci or the other officials? Does he think this — it was a lab leak?”

Psaki responded, “well, the President has said, and I’ve said from here many times, that there needs to be a credible, independent investigation through the World Health Organization. One that relies on data, relies on participation from China and other countries that may have information.”

Robinson tried to follow up again, but Psaki told her, “we are going to have to go on.

“I’m sorry, Emerald, I think you have had plenty of time today.”

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