On Thursday afternoon, the White House press corps kept up what’s come off as a collusion effort with the Biden administration to malign Governor Ron DeSantis (R-FL) (and fellow Governor Greg Abbott of Texas) for his refusal to open the door to new Covid restrictions and lockdowns.
Meanwhile, Fox’s Peter Doocy did his own thing in asking real questions of Press Secretary Jen Psaki with Thursday’s installment focusing on the viral comments from Congresswoman Cori Bush (D-MO) about defunding the police and Team Biden keeping out vaccinated foreigners while allowing unvaccinated illegal immigrants to flood the southern border.
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona served as Psaki’s guest speaker and, with that, liberal journalists saw an opening to attack DeSantis.
CBS’s Nancy Cordes and NPR’s Tamara Keith implicitly brought up the governors, but Cardona still caught their drift and argued they could be the reason why schools shut down during the school year and have chosen politics over “student health and safety” (click “expand”):
CORDES: Well, what about states that are, say, prohibiting school districts from imposing mask mandates? Are you worried that there will be teachers unions that say. “If we can't keep the school safe the way that we feel we should, we don't want to come back.
CARDONA: I'm worried that decisions that are being made that are not putting students at the center and student health and safety at the center is going to be why schools may be disrupted, so we know what to do. And, you know, don't be the reason why schools are disrupted because of the politicization of this effort to reopen schools. We know what works. We have to keep our students safe. We have to keep our educators safe.
KEITH: Yeah. Reopening school is one thing. I think you just alluded to this. Keeping school open would seem to be another thing entirely.
KEITH: What are you most worried about in terms of the ability to keep classrooms open to keep kids, you know, running up that hill to the school over there?
CARDONA: We know what works. This is not our first time doing this. We have the benefit of the experience of last year. We have strong CDC guidance, the Department of Education has several handbooks. The back to school roadmap with tools, checklists. The tools are there. It's just: are we following the mitigation strategies? You know what I'm worried about? The adult actions getting in the way of schools safely reopening. Let our educators educate. Let our leaders — school leaders lead and we can get our schools reopened safely and another thing that I'm worried about that I want to share is complacency. Let's not go back to the school system of March 2020. Our students deserve more. The funds are there. The urgency is there, This is our time to build back better.
KEITH: Can I just draw out, what do you mean by adult actions?
CARDONA: Well when we make policies that go against what CDC recommendations are. You know, at the end of the day, we want to make sure that students are safe. We want to make sure the staff is safe. We know how to do that, so let's not get in the way of school systems, uh, doing policies that they know work for students and staff.
ABC’s Stephanie Ramos was more direct, telling Cardona that her kids “have gotten used to wearing masks,” so what did he make of the opposition to mask mandates from Abbott and DeSantis.
Cardona reiterated that they could be “why schools are interrupted” and students endure more “suffer[ing].”
The AP’s Aamer Madhani took an even more insane tact as he wondered whether parents “should...feel safe sending their children to schools where there aren't mask mandates.”
Cardona used this question to insist that he would hope states do the right thing with masks because, if his department starts to see attendance dips due to frightened parents and children, the federal government will step in.
PBS’s Yamiche Alcindor picked up on that threat and twice lobbied Cardona to use the Education Department to curb stomp Abbott and DeSantis to ensure that “politics” doesn’t get “in the way of — of science.”
Not to be left out, Reuters’s Jeff Mason closed Cardona’s Q&A by framing conservative opposition to critical race theory as a plot to thwart the teaching of “more Black history in schools.”
Shifting to the more traditional Psaki Show, Ramos fretted that DeSantis was “fundraising off of President Biden’s comments” attacking him. To this, Psaki reiterated that DeSantis has chosen “partisan name-calling” and politics over “public health” and taking a “deadly serious” approach to a deadly pandemic.
And while The Washington Post spent Thursday morning kvetching about Doocy and his questioning, the Fox correspondent started with news of the day on Bush’s insistence that the police should be defunded while she gets to keep private security.
As she did when suggesting Republicans were defunding the police, Psaki wasn’t amused (click “expand”):
DOOCY: Democratic Congresswoman Cori Bush is saying that she favors spending tens of thousands on private security to keep her safe and that people should, “suck it up. Defunding the police has to happen” Didn't President Biden say a few weeks ago that anybody who refuses the party of being anti-police is lying?
PSAKI: Well, I think we shouldn't lose the forest through the trees here, which is that a member of Congress — and elected official is concerned that her life is threatened, and that's disturbing that any elected official have to suffer death threats and fear for their life, so I'm not going to comment, of course on their security arrangements. I don't have any more details on that. But I think we should start with that point first. I will say that the President has been crystal clear that he opposes defunding the police. He has said that throughout the camp — his campaign for office, his record over the last several decades has made that clear. He has proposed increased funding for law enforcement and the COPS program, increase funding from his predecessor who was, as you might note or be aware of, a Republican. So, I'd note that his record is pretty clear on this. There may be some in the Democratic Party, including Congresswoman Bush, who disagree with him. That's okay. But I would say the majority of Democrats — we've seen this in polling and the majority of members also agree that we should not defund the police.
DOOCY: Is there a greater concern, though — I understand that's not the president's position, but is there a concern that defunding the police or “suck it up, defunding the police has to happen” might become a big Democratic message ahead of the midterms?
PSAKI: It does not appear to become — be — becoming a democratic message, even though there might be a desire for that on the other side of the aisle.
Little changed on immigration as Doocy noted that “there are reports the administration wants to require all foreign visitors to be vaccinated,” so he wanted to know whether that’d “include migrants arriving in Texas and Arizona and then released into border towns.”
When Psaki wouldn’t answer, he followed up: “But do you think that it's keeping people safe in McAllen, Texas, where 7,000 confirmed Covid-positive migrants have been released into the city since February, 1,500 in the last seven days?”
Psaki denied this as a serious problem because McAllen “signed a disaster declaration” to put “up a temporary emergency shelter to provide a space — to create an isolated space to mitigate this issue” in combination with using Title 42 and giving PPE to detained migrants.
To see the relevant transcript from August 5's briefing, click here.