Tuesday brought us a packed White House press briefing amid an East Coast gas shortage, fears of inflation, and ongoing crises on the border and with the coronavirus. So, it was only natural that Fox News’s Peter Doocy brought the heat with questions about the Biden administration denying there was a border crisis, energy regulations, and peddling fear about outdoor transmission.
And though NBC’s Peter Alexander admirably challenged Press Secretary Jen Psaki on state bailouts, another reporter in the room boasted to Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm about how the Colonial pipeline hack will help the administration push more Americans toward renewable energy.
Doocy took his shot on immigration with DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas leading off the briefing (alongside Granholm to talk about the pipeline), citing Fox News reporting along the border that “show[ed] humongous groups of dozens or hundreds of migrants walking right into the country” to wonder how that squared with his insistence that “the border is closed.”
Mayorkas didn’t flinch and insisted he “meant...precisely that” when he said “the border is closed.”
Illustrating the perpetual leftist desire to never let a crisis go to waste, a reporter asked Granholm to think “more holistically in a macro view” about the Colonial crisis could “speed up the efforts at DOE to move in a more of a renewable direction wince this is gonna have an impact on people at the pump.”
Sporting a sense of glee, Granholm boasted that “if you drive an electric car, this would not be affecting you” and maintained the administration is still “all-in on making sure that we meet the President's goals of getting to 100 percent clean electricity by 2035 and net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.”
Fast-forward to Psaki’s Q&A, and though Alexander would be one of three reporters to bring up the impending House Republican vote against Congresswoman Liz Cheney (R-WY), he spent most of his time pressing Psaki on the fact that previously-cash-starved states like California were now flush in cash (click “expand”):
ALEXANDER: Let me ask you, the state of California right now is — is projecting a budget surplus of roughly $76 billion such that the governor of that state is now wanting to hand — to deliver checks of roughly $600 to everybody making less than $75,000. As you know, this all comes against the backdrop of those $350 billion from the American Rescue Plan being handed out to states and local governments. So did the White House overestimate how much money would be needed. California itself gets $42 billion out of the deal.
PSAKI: Well, first let me say that the way that the money was determined is by statute. It requires Treasury to allocate funds to states based in part on the average number of unemployed people in states in the last three months of 2020, so that's how the determination was made from state to state. So, for California or any state across the country, it was based on the final three months of unemployment in 2020. Here’s what we still know that there's a broad on flexible list of guidelines for how these funds can be used, including to put public servants back to work, ramp up the effectiveness of COVID response and vaccination programs, help workers train for and secure good-paying jobs. Those are all needs that exist in California and exist in states across the country and as I noted in response to the earlier question, there are still millions of people out of work in this country, and still millions of people who are serving in jobs like police officers, firefighters, educators who could benefit from this assistance that's going out.
ALEXANDER: But given the based on those numbers, obviously, we now recognize in California is much more money than you anticipated, should that raise any questions for critics of how much money the President wants to spend on the upcoming proposals, including the infrastructure plan as it relates to social programs?
PSAKI: Well, first, I would say that a core of the infrastructure of the American jobs plan, eyes on rebuilding infrastructure around the country that we all know is outdated, whether that is bridges across the country, whether that is roads and railways that have long — there's agreement among Democrats and Republicans, including some in — many in Congress that — that needs to be invested — those investments are necessary. Things like redoing our lead pipes around the country, which will ensure kids have clean drinking water will also create jobs, so what that proposal is about is about modernizing outdated infrastructure doing it in a way that brings us to the 21st century and helps us compete with China. That is a big, long term investment and one that you know, the president certainly stands — stands by.
Doocy went next and wondered whether the Biden team was “rethinking their opposition to new pipeline projects since one really important one goes offline and gas stations start running dry.”
Psaki refused to commit to anything beyond a case-by-case examination of the “economic” and “environmental impact[s],” so Doocy followed up by using the latter phrase to ask how could Biden possibly show “climate leadership” when “the solution for this pipeline going offline is for oil producers to start using railcars and oil tankers as floating storage and for the EPA to start letting gas stations so lower-quality fuel.”
The former CNNer expanded on this question and emphasized Biden’s “ensur[ing] that the American people know that we're going to work to address this current challenge and that he’s going to use all of the assets and resources at his disposal.”
Doocy pivoted to the pandemic and concern the Biden CDC’s guidance has made it “harder...to convince people to get vaccines and to wear masks when they created this impression that up to 10 percent COVID transmission occurs outdoors, even though there's this New York Times report now where they say there's not a single documented COVID — COVID infection anywhere in the world from casual outdoor interactions.”
Psaki again tried to wiggle out of it, so Doocy was more direct in his follow-up in floating the notion that the Biden administration hasn’t been following the “science” (click “expand”):
PSAKI: Well, I believe Dr Walensky addressed this in the Senate hearing this morning, and she pointed to a collection of scientific studies that set that number that they relied on that set that number of less than 10. We know as more people get vaccinated, there will be less and less need for certain restrictions, and the CDC has said they will continue to evaluate the science and update the recommendations as they have already begun doing and so that's what we will be relying on moving forward and as we have been.
DOOCY: But they did still — but they took the study they chose to put as part of their guidance. And so I guess my last question would be the then-President-Elect said in January: “I've always said that the Biden-Harris administration will lead with science and truth.” Which one is it here?
PSAKI: Well again, Peter, we — we know that outs or transmission is rare. The CDC has said that themself. I would certainly refer you to them on their — and the scientists and experts there — the scientists — the leaders in data analysis to get to the heart of what they look at. But this — the — Dr. Walensky referred to several studies that — that provided that data and that information and that's what they look at there.
While some like Bloomberg’s Nancy Cook asked about inflation, others reflected the D.C. insider and media-driven obsession over Cheney with The Washington Post’s Matt Viser and HuffPo’s S.V. Date that path. In other words, they couldn’t help their fellow leftists kick that sweet, sweet addiction to anything remotely related to former President Trump.