After a day off and a guest appearance by Principal Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, The Psaki Show was back with a new episode on Friday and, for the second day in a row, the Fox News Channel’s Peter Doocy and wife Hillary Vaughn of the Fox Business Network applied the heat to the Briefing Room podium.
Other reporters asked insightful questions about Biden’s poll numbers, the DHS investigation into the fake whips story, gas prices, press access, but it was Doocy who battled Psaki over vaccine mandates and President Biden not having visited the U.S. southern border while Vaughn focused on the economic pinch Americans have found themselves in ahead of the holiday season.
Most of Doocy’s time focused on immigration, but he led off with news that “[t]he leader of the union representing FedEx, UPS, and DHL is saying that supply chain problems are going to get worse with labor shortages right before the holidays unless the President postpones the requirement to get vaccinated by December 8.”
With that said, Doocy wanted to know: “[W]hat is more important to this President: The vaccine mandates or fixing the supply chain as fast as possible?”
Psaki deflected, arguing that’s “not actually what we've seen at companies that have implemented these vaccine requirements” and instead the labor market would be in worse shape if the Covid vaccine wasn’t mandated.
Doocy did have a quick follow-up, which led Psaki to a near-identical answer: “Just so that I understand...This union leader says that the looming December 8 mandate for having fully vaccinated workforces ‘creates a pretty significant supply chain problems.’ You say? No, it does not. Is that right?”
But the real battle royale began when Doocy went back to immigration and something he had asked Psaki about on September 22 and 24 and Biden was quizzed on at Thursday’s CNN town hall: “Following up on something else the President said last night, Why did President Biden say he has been to the border?”
Psaki replied that “there's been reporting that he did drive through the border when he was on the campaign trail in 2008” and, along with that, she said Biden “has worked on these issues throughout his entire career” and thus “does not need a visit to the border to know what a mess was left by the last administration.”
As expected Doocy wasn't going to stand for Psaki's gaslighting and, for that, Psaki grew agitated that she had been caught spewing nonsense (click “expand”):
DOOCY: Does that count as a visit? He said, “I've been there before.” You're saying he drove by for a few minutes. Does that count?
PSAKI: What do you — what is the root cause? Where are people coming from who are coming to the border, Peter?
DOOCY: The President has said that he has been to the border.
PSAKI: I'm asking a question cause I think people should understand the context.
DOOCY: No, you’re not answering the question.
PSAKI: Where do people — where do people —
DOOCY: I’m asking you if —
PSAKI: — okay, I'll answer it for you. People come from Central America and Mexico to go to the border. The President has been to those countries 10 times to talk about border issues. There is a focus right now on a photo op. The president does not believe a photo op is the same as solutions.
DOOCY: But he said, “I —”
PSAKI: That may be a difference he has with Republicans
DOOCY: — but that’s not what he said either. He said, “I guess I should go down.” So, does he think that he needs a photo op? Is that what he's saying?
PSAKI: He doesn't —
DOOCY: Is that what you're saying?"
PSAKI: — and that's a fundamental disagreement he has. I would say the former President went to the border at least once, maybe more. You may know the numbers.
DOOCY: That doesn’t have anything to do with —
PSAKI: How did that immigration policy result, Peter? That immigration policy resulted in separating kids from their parents, building a border wall that's feckless, and that cost billions of dollars for taxpayers. The President fundamentally disagrees on how —
DOOCY: — has —
PSAKI: — we need to approach —
DOOCY: — has —
PSAKI: — the immigration issue.
DOOCY: — anything changed at the border between 2008 when he drove by and 2021?
PSAKI: Aside from the fact migrants are still coming through the course of Democratic and Republican presidents and the — the immig — the need to reform immigration system is even further long overdue? No, but we need to work with Democrats and Republicans to get that done. I think we’re going to have to keep chugging along here.
Move ahead 20 minutes and Vaughn picked up where she left off from Thursday with Jean-Pierre by posing a similar question to Psaki about the administration's Baghdad Bob-like insistence that inflation and the supply chain crisis are happening because the economy's in such great shape
Your colleague Karine said, last year, under Trump, during the holidays, families were facing down a dark winter with less economic security than ever before. But this year, families are facing highest gas prices in seven years, 30 percent higher costs to heat their homes, inflation that is almost five higher than it was in December, groceries are more expensive, so I'm wondering what Americans are facing this Thanksgiving and Christmas under President Biden when looking at economic security.
Unfortunately, Vaughn didn't get a follow-up as Psaki offered more shameless spin that “the economy is turning back on" and the economy's in far greater shape than it was during the lockdowns of 2020.”
“There's no question that, a year ago, when we were locked in our homes, when one only one percent of people were vaccinated, when 10 percent of people in this country were unemployed, that was an incredibly dark time and dark period in our country," Psaki added.
In two other notable moments, the New York Post's Steven Nelson called out the White House's ongoing curtailing of press access for Biden events in the East Room and the Daily Caller's Shelby Talcott inquired about the Department of Homeland Security investigation into the (fake) whips story that's now a month late (click “expand”):
NELSON: We, as a press corps, are fairly unanimous in our opposition to the mysterious pre-screening process that's been going on for presidential events in the East Room. And so, I'm hoping that you can demystify for us how White House staff are selecting which journalists get into these events. Is it first come first serve or something else? Also, how long will this pre-screening remain in place?
PSAKI: Well, we have — we are still in the middle of a pandemic. As you know, people are wearing masks in this room. As a reflection of that, we have certain requirements here as well among staff, and I think we don't have this size of numbers that we would all like to have in the East Room, and we hope that we make changes to that soon.
NELSON: But how are the decision made about —
PSAKI: Is that not important that we're going to expand access and make sure more people can get into the East Room.
NELSON: That’s almost everyone here, but how are the decisions made about who gets to go in?
PSAKI: There's a limited number that we have based on how many — how many people are attending as guests. I don't have any more information on that. [TO KAREN TRAVERS] Go ahead, Karen.
NELSON: My second question was about —
PSAKI: I think we're going to move on.
TALCOTT: The DHS secretary said, I think it's just about a month ago now, that the investigation into the horseback Border Patrol agents would be completed in days, not weeks. Has the White House received any update on this investigation? Was there any conclusion on whether these Border Patrol agents were whipping migrants?
PSAKI: It's really under the Homeland Security Department. I can check with them —
TALCOTT: Can —
PSAKI: — and see what the status is. I know what he said at the time and I will see if there's any particular update on that.
TALCOTT: — and so, is the White House in active communication with the DHS on this? Like, do we know why this hasn’t been —
PSAKI: Yes, but they're overseeing the investigation so well, I would point to them on any update on the status.
To see the relevant transcript from October 22's briefing (including questions from NBC's Peter Alexander on gas prices, Gray TV's Jon Decker on Biden's plummeting poll numbers and The New York Times's Zolan Kanno-Youngs on Afghanistan), click here.