The transformational difference between the misanthropic horrors of the Trump era and the humanity and competence of the Biden administration is perhaps no better illustrated than by comparing the performance of White House Press Secretary Jennifer Psaki to that of her multiple predecessors in the previous administration.
Whereas the tenures of Sean Spicer, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Stephanie Grisham, and Kayleigh McEnany were conspicuously marked by similarly dogged defenses of whatever lies the Trump White House was peddling on any given day — and a willingness to go to the mat by personally attacking the journalists asking inconveniently tough questions — Jennifer Psaki’s performance in the job for a president who could have rightfully used the old campaign slogan for the Firesign Theater’s fictional candidate from the 1972 presidential election — “Not insane!” — is a study in contrasts.
Psaki’s even-tempered, logic- and reason-based approach to her job, has transformed the White House Daily press briefings from exercises in media manipulation and obfuscation to thoughtful dissemination of facts leavened by sly humor and an ability to disarm attempted “gotcha” questions from right-wing press trying to undermine the popularity of a presidency that has been remarkably effective and diligent in beginning to clean up the disastrous mess left behind by Donald Trump.
Psaki demonstrated her skills in dealing with journalists trying to sabotage the Biden presidency through their less than good faith lines of questioning again today as Fox News assigned another reporter to try to see if they could do a better job than Peter Doocy at slinging zingers at the press secretary.
Suffice it to say that it did not go any better for the replacement Fox News reporter than it did for Doocy.
The reporter asked a leading question that required one to believe that educating the children of undocumented immigrants is somehow a horrendous occurrence, especially given the failure of many school systems to fully reopen due to the pandemic.
Psaki handled the inherently hostile question with diplomacy and aplomb, noting the Biden administration’s previously announced goal of helping schools reopen for in-person learning while reminding the reporter that the local school district handles the primary responsibility for the day-to-day details of the rules for such reopenings.
She also noted that San Diego schools are currently on Spring Break and wondered whether the instruction being offered to the immigrant children was being conducted on a voluntary basis, urging the journalist to delve further into the details of the situation with the local authorities who could offer more light on the situation.
Psaki gently, but firmly, pointed to the loaded nature of the question being asked by telling the Fox News reporter that:
“I think the context is pretty important.”
Right-wing media will try anything to get a sound bite that they can use to attack the Biden administration policies on their insidious network of 24/7 cable news channels and talk radio programs, but it looks like Psaki will deny them the opportunity to score easy points through her responses to their bad faith questions.
You can see the White House Press Secretary in action in the video excerpt below.
"I think the context is pretty important" — Psaki handles a bad faith question from a Fox News reporter about undocumented kids having access to education in San Diego pic.twitter.com/YkRTcOI06L
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 30, 2021
Original reporting by Aaron Rupar at Vox.
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Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.