Hours before Vogue published an nauseously soft puff piece on the ever-inept White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, Wednesday’s press briefing featured more of what we saw on Tuesday with reporters showing their COVID skittishness by grilling her form the left on the virus in light of the First Lady’s positive test. But, in similar fashion, only a few showed up to do their jobs.
This time, it was CBS’s Weijia Jiang bringing Hunter Biden questions and Fox’s Jacqui Heinrich calling out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) remaining hellbent on mask recommendations for kids.
Jiang came first: “House Republicans have just sent a letter to National Archives requesting unredacted records from the office of then-Vice President Biden. Does the Weiss [sic] — does the White House support the transparency on these records?”
Jean-Pierre stuck to her usual response, which was punting to the White House Counsel’s Office because she wants “to let them deal with that.” Jiang followed up by taking a page from the Peter Doocy playbook and firing off the actual hardball:
The letter sites email traffic between Kate Bedingfield and Eric Schwerin — who’s a longtime Hunter Biden business associate — in which Bedingfield signed off on quotes that should be used to respond to media inquiries about Hunter’s involvement in Burisma. How do you respond to criticism that that shows there was no wall between then-Vice President Biden’s work and his family’s business dealings?
Jean-Pierre didn’t change her response, adding she “understand[s]” and “appreciate[s] the question.”
Jiang changed topics to an embarrassing failure from the White House press office that allowed “[t]he initial statement from the President about the passing of Governor Bill Richardson” to cite “their daughter, Heather” even though the Richardsons never had “a daughter named Heather — or a daughter” at all.
“So can you walk us through how these press releases are factchecked; who signs off on them in the end; and then, in this case, how this error was made,” she asked.
Not surprisingly, Jean-Pierre said a whole lot of nothing besides emphasizing “we apologize for the error” and “that was not done intentionally” and, upon discovering “that error, it was removed”.
Jiang closed by wondering if “the source of the error been identified and dealt with,” but Jean-Pierre refused to answer.
Heinrich closed the briefing by pointing out that “CDC still recommends universal indoor masking for kids in school, students, staff” despite that being “out of step with some of the studies around the usefulness of masks for kids” and thus why should taxpayers “keep funding these studies if the CDC is not making guidance that follows the results of those studies?”
Lacking an answer, Jean-Pierre instead bashed the Trump administration as “incapable” of controlling COVID whereas the Biden administration carried out “a strategy to really, truly deal with COVID-19 and this pandemic.”
“[W]e have the tools, and that includes masking, that includes vaccinations and as you know, CDC and FDA said they’re going to have vaccine [boosters] by mid-September,” she added.
Heinrich pushed back (click “expand”):
HEINRICH: Do — do we know what works though?
JEAN-PIERRE: But let me —
HEINRICH: I mean, the CDC does not —
JEAN-PIERRE: But —
HEINRICH: — seem to be responding to the data.
JEAN-PIERRE: I’ll say this — and you’re talking about schools?
JEAN-PIERRE: CDC — they’re the experts. They’re — they use science to come to — to come forward with their guidelines and it is important that we allow them to do their work and we believe that we are in a different place and all you got to do is look around. Look around to where we are today and where we were when we first started in this administration and that’s because we put forward an — an — a comprehensive plan with tools to make sure that we dealt with the pandemic, that we dealt with COVID in a real way. Let’s not forget where we were when the President started off: Thousands of people were dying a day. A day. A day and so, that is — that is, like, the reality. So, clearly, something that we have done, from the moment that we stepped into this administration to now, has worked and that’s because we followed the guidance of the CDC. We let FDA do their work. That’s the scientists. That’s the experts and that’s why we are in a much better place than we are today. I know you’re asking me about data, but all you got to do is look at where we are as a country.
Heinrich kept hammering away: “16 states don’t have any mask mandates — or, sorry, 16 states follow CDC guidance closely for schools. Nine states have banned school mask mandates. There’s a patchwork, basically, of — of — protocols and — and so, when the CDC is saying one thing and people are obviously — in a better place”.
On whether the CDC guidelines “should...be revised,” Jean-Pierre took the approach of her predecessor Jen Psaki in trusting fully in the so-called experts (read: liberal activists): “These are not mandates. These are guidelines by CDC — what they recommend, what they believe would work. It is up — it is up to the schools.”
To see the relevant transcript from the September 6 briefing (including the seemingly bottomless COVID questions), click here.