Friday, January 22, 2021

White House Press Reverts To Republican-Wired Form


The Republican- wired press is back.

Eagerly lapping up the bad faith of Republicans looking to retain power and leverage by invoking "unity" and "bipartisanship" to foil the Biden Administration from the get-go, several in the press secretary's briefing yesterday lobbed their loaded questions at Press Secretary Jen Psaki. 

This, from New York Effing Times reporter Mike Shear (remember that name):

Q   That's fine. So I want to push you a little bit more on that question.  Like if there’s this call for unity that the President made in his speech yesterday, but there has so far been almost no fig leaf even to the Republican Party.  You don’t have a Republican Cabinet member, like President Obama and, I think, President Clinton had.  You — you know, the executive orders that he’s come out the gate have been largely designed at erasing as much of the Trump legacy as you can with executive orders, much of which the Republican Party likes and agrees with.  You’ve put forth an immigration bill that has a path to citizenship but doesn’t do much of a nod towards the border security.  And you’ve got a 1.9-trillion-dollar COVID relief bill that has, as folks have said, already drawn all sorts of criticism.  Where is the — where is the actual action behind this idea of bipartisanship? 

And when are we going to see one of those, you know, sort of, substantial outreaches that says, “This is something that, you know, the Republicans want to do, too”?

We won't go into how much the Times needs to atone for its part in installing Mango Mussolini in office ("but her emails!").  That's well known by now, which makes this preening jackass's question even more infuriating than it otherwise might be.

Psaki's response, in part:

But, Mike, is unemployment insurance only an issue that Democrats in the country want?  Do only Democrats want their kids to go back to schools?  Do only Democrats want vaccines to be distributed across the country?  That’s — we feel that that package — he feels that package is designed for bipartisan support. [snip]

I think if you talk to Democrats — or Republicans on the Hill, which I know many of you do, they will say they’re not looking for something symbolic.  They are looking for engagement.  They’re looking to have a conversation.  They’re looking to have a dialogue.  And that’s exactly what he’s going to do.

That was a pretty deft response, though we wish she would have reminded him of the mandate President Biden won at the ballot box (81 million votes, 306 electoral college votes), and that the party of sedition needs to make amends before it's allowed to use "unity" as a cloak for its obstructionism.  But, President Biden brought some of this on himself by his liberal use of that word outside of the context of the insurrection and the long history of Republican bad faith (and, yes, we know, the narrow margins in the House and Senate yada yada).

Here's another gem, this one from NBC's Kristen Welker (remember her name, too):

Q     Jen, President Biden is reversing a number of former President Trump’s policies, and we’re seeing some of former President Trump’s staffers be placed on leave or be reassigned.  Is there an attempt to purge Trump officials?

MS. PSAKI:  Well, there’s a new administration, so obviously there are a number of new officials in place.  I know there was some reporting, for example — and I don’t know if this is who you were referencing, so you tell me if not — of the head of the NLRB.  That’s an individual who was not carrying out the — you know, anyone would tell you, not just from our administration — the objectives of the NLRB.  And so they were — they’re no longer in their position.  And we’ll — we’ll take — make those decisions as needed.

Q     So there’s not an effort writ large that you’re assessing — reassessing individuals in the administration?

MS. PSAKI:  Well, Kristen, as you know, when a new administration comes in, there’s a massive changeover in political appointees and nominees and people who will serve in a variety of roles...

We're pretty certain Welker knows how things work when a new Administration takes over from an old one, especially one as criminal and ethically challenged as the last.  So, we're not sure if "Is there an attempt to purge Trump officials?" is one of the most ignorant questions she's ever asked, or one of the most devious, designed to imply that the Biden Administration is doing something abnormal or unAmerican.  (Welker, by our unscientific measure, also seemed to be among the last of the corporate media reporters to use the word "lie" -- and then only infrequently -- to describe what was coming out of Mango Mussolini's and his various spokesliars' mouths.)

There's more in the transcript that would indicate that at least some of the White House press are going to try to prove their "independent" cred now that democracy has, for now, been saved.  So, it's back to business as usual, Republican- wired, "both sides," "what- aboutism."  Our heroes!

BONUSWashington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan has a generally good take on the press and how they should comport themselves.  A snippet:

But soon, I’d guess, another norm will return: the desire to appear combative and to blow things out of proportion to demonstrate toughness. Because journalists pride themselves on being tough and objective, they like to take an adversarial-seeming approach, especially to the party in power or the candidate with whom they most identify. (And, of course, actually holding power to account is the most important job that journalists have. It’s what we’re here for.)

But there’s a difference between truly holding power to account and grandstanding. It’s the latter that gave rise to ridiculous dust-ups like the one over President Barack Obama’s wearing of a tan suit — not to mention the vast and shameful overplaying of the Hillary Clinton email scandal during the 2016 campaign.

The national media should show toughness, but of a different sort. If they’ve learned the lessons of the past four years — and I confess that I have my doubts — they’ll do things differently.

They will resist false equivalency. For example, they’ll think twice before they put a reality-denying senator like Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) or Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) on the air to promote false claims about election fraud simply because they feel they need to “balance” all the (truthful) Democratic voices.

We have our doubts, too.  So Democrats need to push back early and strongly.

BONUS IIWe're not the only ones who noticed.



donnah said...

I went ballistic during that presser. I could not believe my eyes and ears when these Right Wing stooges were asking these most ridiculous questions. And the FOX guy, who whined why the Bidens weren't wearing masks during the Inaugural celebration in the White House should be sent back to junior high, from which he apparently just had arrived.

We knew the Republicans would be total A-holes when they lost. But this was Biden's first full day in charge and they were already demanding that Covid be cured and the economy that they wrecked be fully restored. We are in for a torturous term, not by Trump, but by the Republicans he helped empower. We need to shut this down now. Democrats cannot be bullied and harassed any longer.

One Fly said...

Will the Dems be smart enough to play this game better than the other side this time and win?

W. Hackwhacker said...

donnah -- yeah, that was the son of "Fox & Friends" Doocy (though Psaki called him "Steve", which is his father's name ;-) His line of attack was so predictable, I didn't bother including it. (We might have to dub him "Deuce 2")

One Fly -- if they aren't, we're in deep shit.

donnah said...

Should be “douchey”.