Politics

Jen Psaki shuts down journalist who tried to paint Congresswoman getting death threats as hypocrite

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki pauses for a moment as she addresses reporters on Thursday, April 15, 2021, in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Cameron Smith)
White House Press Secretary Jen PsakiPhoto: White House

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki refused to let a Fox News reporter use death threats being made against a Black Congresswoman as a political attack on President Joe Biden.

Fox’s Peter Doocy brought up comments made by Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO) yesterday in a CBS News interview where she said, “Defunding the police has to happen.”

Related: Jen Psaki patiently teaches Fox reporter how the First Amendment works

Rightwing pundits called Bush a hypocrite for spending $70,000 on security since Congress was attacked by Trump supporters on January 6, which she said she needed because “I have had attempts on my life.”

“You would rather me die?” she asked.

Bush said she has to spend money on security and told the people threatening her: “I get to be here to do the work, so suck it up.”

“Didn’t President Biden say two weeks ago that anybody that accuses the party of being anti-police is lying?” Doocy asked Psaki, referring to Bush’s call to defund the police. Bush took office several months ago and is not a member of party leadership.

“Well, I think we shouldn’t lose the forest for the trees here, which is that a member of Congress, an elected official, is concerned that her life is threatened and that’s disturbing that any elected official had to suffer death threats and fear for their life,” Psaki said.

Psaki then repeated a point she has made repeatedly since the right started trying to get Biden to admit that Democrats secretly favor defunding the police: “The president has been crystal clear that he opposes defunding the police. He has said that throughout his campaign for office.”

“He has proposed increased funding for law enforcement,” she continued, “increased funding from his predecessor, who was, as you might know, a Republican.”

“There may be some in the Democratic Party, including Congresswoman Bush, who disagree with him. That’s OK.”

Doocy then asked Psaki if she’s worried that Democrats might make defunding the police the party position.

“It does not appear to be becoming a Democratic message, even though there might be a desire for that on the other side of the aisle,” Psaki said.

Doocy misrepresented Bush’s words both times that he asked Psaki about them.

She said, “I get to be here to do the work, so suck it up. And defunding the police has to happen.” The “suck it up” was referring to the fact that she was elected to Congress and she is going to do her job, whether the people sending death threats like it or not.

From context, the “it” in “suck it up” was not referring to the following statement about defunding the police, as if Bush were telling Fox News’s audience that there will definitely be more crime if police get less funding and that they have to “suck it up.”

But Doocy did not not include the beginning of her first sentence – “I get to be here to do the work” – both times he quoted her, or her more extensive statements on the death threats she has been receiving.

In the CBS News interview, Bush talked about this dynamic, where conservative pundits misrepresent her words without concern for the death threats she has been getting, creating more hostility towards her.

She said conservatives calling her a hypocrite “would rather I die.”

“We’re also talking about the same exact people who say horrible things about me – who lie to build up their base – and then because they lie about me, I receive death threats,” she continued. “Now they don’t address the fact that I receive death threats after they go on air and say horrible things about me.”

“I have private security because my body is worth being on this planet right now. I have private security because they – the white supremacist, racist narrative that they drive into this country, the fact that they don’t care that this Black woman that has put her life on the line…. They don’t care that I could be taken out of here.”

“I won’t let them get that off. You won’t get that off,” she said. “I get to be here to do the work, so suck it up.”

The relevant portion starts at the 10:20 mark.

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