Topic: Media Research Center
In the days after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Media Research Center's Curtis Houck continued to push anti-American attitudes in his summaries of White House press briefing by emphasing Biden-bashing over unity. His lashing out at press secretary Jen Psaki during a March 1 Fox News appearance was typical:
Previewing President Biden’s State of the Union address, White House press secretary Jen Psaki joined FNC’s America’s Newsroom on Tuesday and squared off against co-hosts Bill Hemmer and Dana Perino over President Biden’s response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and specifically the administration’s refusal to budge on domestic oil and gas production and the timing of the CDC dropping its mask recommendations.
After opening with questions about whether the U.S. believes the violence from Russian dictator Vladimir Putin’s military constitutes war crimes, Hemmer noted “[w]e buy Russia's oil and we don't need to” before asking whether Biden “will...make an appeal...based on some sort of shared sacrifice” that Americans “will consume less in order to help Ukrainian people and hurt Putin more.”
Psaki refused to budge from her talking points, insisting Biden wants to “maximize the impact on President Putin, on the cronies and the oligarchs who have been benefiting from so much corruption in Russia” and “squeeze the financial system there,” while also “minimizing the impact on the global markets and the American people.”
Hemmer tried again, but Psaki stood pat despite conceding that “standing up for democracy versus autocracy is not without cost” and “any instability in the global oil marketplace is the result of the actions of President Putin.”
Note that Houck did not accuse Hemmer and Perino of pushing talking points -- perhaps because he's singing from that very same script. He also didn't mention that he, Hemmer and Perino were setting up Psaki and Biden -- despite blaming Biden for not moving quickly enough to cut off oil exports from Russia, they would also blame Biden for the gas price spike once that oil was cut off. It's the right-wing script that Biden must always criticize him no matter what he does -- even if he does what right-wingers told him to do.
Houck did an ever-so-brief section at the end of his item touting how "reporters also came loaded for bear"at that day's press briefing, giving an seemingly MRC-mandated shout-out to Fox News reporter Jacqui Heinrich.
Houck gave Heinrich a more extensive gushing-over in his summary of the March 3 briefing for pushing that same talking point:
After having two days off for President Biden’s State of the Union and trip to Wisconsin, Thursday brought the return of The Psaki Show and, with the Biden administration still refusing to ban the import of Russian oil, the questions were fierce.
They included a slew from Fox’s Jacqui Heinrich with one presenting Psaki with the notion that the U.S. is “financing” Russia’s “war” against Ukraine “as long as we’re buying Russian oil,” which would square with the fact that oil and gas sales make up 36 percent of its national budget.
Heinrich started, however, by poking holes in the administration’s logic of refusing to expand domestic gas and oil production, but pushing for it in other areas to help drive down the price of goods:
Houck went on to sneer that "Psaki stuck to her previous answer, blaming oil companies for allegedly thousands of unused leases." He didn't disprove Psaki's statement, but instad he continued his Heinrich-fluffing:
Psaki engaged in a bait-and-switch, ignoring Heinrich’s point about money coming into Russia from U.S. oil purchases and instead saying Russian oil only makes up “about ten percent of what we're importing” even though cutting it off “would...raise prices.”
To her credit, Heinrich reached that point thanks to Psaki stonewalling from past questions, starting with two from the AP’s Colleen Long about Putin benefitting from higher prices so long as a ban remains off.
Houck's summary of the March 7 hearing was devoted to reporters -- with special attention given to right-wingers Steven Nelson of the New York Post and (credibly accused sexual harasser) James Rosen of Newsmax -- complaining that reporters didn't get to ask enough questions. After noting that White House Correspondents Association president and CBS News Radio correspondent Steven Portnoy pointed out that Psaki “made a conscious decision to try to honor the long-standing traditions of the room” since “the people before [her] [had] a different view.” Houck huffed in response: "This was a swipe at press secretaries for then-President Trump." Of course, Houck thought it was cool that those press secretaries wouldn't take questions and acted like jerks toward reporters.
Houck also made sure to get in his "Doocy Boom" fluffing from that briefing in a separate post:
Prior to Monday’s explosive post-briefing kerfuffle (which NewsBusters was able to audio from), the regularly scheduled Psaki Show featured the return of Doocy Time as the Fox News correspondent battled the press secretary over who or what’s to blame for high gas prices and why there’s been, at best, an apprehension to increased domestic oil and gas production as Russia’s war on Ukraine rages on.
Doocy started with the reality that prices were already on the rise prior to Russia’s formal invasion: “It sounds like you guys are blaming Putin for the increase in gas prices recently, but weren’t gas prices going up anyway because of post-pandemic supply chain issues?”
Sure enough, Psaki painted a rosy picture on energy prior to Russia’s unprovoked actions, saying “there’s no question that...the anticipated continued increase...is a direct result of the invasion of Ukraine.”
Houck then decided he could read Psaki's mind:
To Psaki’s chagrin and pleas to “let me finish,” Doocy reminded here that “President Biden signed an executive order his first week that halted new oil and gas leases on public lands.”
Psaki ignored that fact in favor of saying she had to “give you the facts here — and I know that can be inconvenient, but I think they’re important in this moment.”
She gave away the game of many using the crisis to force burdensome so-called clean energy sources on Americans, Psaki said Americans need to “make the shift to secure a...clean energy future” even as “[w]e are one of the largest producers with a strong domestic oil and gas industry” with oil companies holding us back.
Houck censored the fact that the moratorium on new oil and gas leases has been left and, as a result, the Biden administration has issued more leases than the entire Trump administration.