The MRC's War on Jen Psaki (And Man-Crush On Peter Doocy): July 2021
More man-crushing! More Psaki-hating! Hiding another Doocy screw-up! A dash of homophobia! That's how the Media Research Center's Curtis Houck spent his July reviewing White House press briefings.
By Terry Krepel
With Fox’s Peter Doocy away from Tuesday’s White House press briefing, interest shifted elsewhere for NewsBusters and, thankfully, CNN political analyst and Grio correspondent April Ryan beclowned herself with questions from the left on civil rights, voting, and white supremacists. This included the insane assertion from Ryan to Press Secretary Jen Psaki that voting rights have “collapsed” with GOP laws and the failure of the For the People Act.
Houck's only other entry for that week was for the July 9 briefing, where he did latch onto other right-wing reporters:
Friday’s White House press briefing featured an important and welcome surprise as CBS senior White House correspondent Weijia Jiang used her front-row spot in the Briefing Room to repeatedly question Press Secretary Jen Psaki about the administration’s role in the upcoming sale of Hunter Biden’s art collection in New York City.
Houck went on to complain about a "far-left voting rights question," though he never equivalently identified Wegmann or Nelson as "far-right."
Life is apparently dull for Houck when he can't man-crush on Doocy. So with Doocy's return on July 12, Houck was ready to go into man-crush overdrive:
With Cubans having taken to the street over the weekend to protest the 62 years of communist rule that worsened during the coronavirus pandemic, AP and CNN White House reporters used Monday’s briefing to side with their friends in the Communist Party, and demand Press Secretary Jen Psaki blame former President Trump’s posture toward the island nation for its economic ruin.
Of course, Houck was lying when he claimed reporters were siding with "Communist Cuba," but the MRC is cool with any besmirching of the "liberal media," now matter how fanciful.
Houck's man-crushing continued on July 14:
Fox News White House correspondent Peter Doocy went toe-to-toe with Press Secretary Jen Psaki during Wednesday’s briefing, challenging her on the hypocrisy surrounding Texas Democrats fleeing the state over proposed voter integrity measures and the administration’s refusal to denounce the evils of communism that have ravaged the Cuban people for 62 years.
Funny, we don't recall Houck ever crediting a "liberal media" reporter for doing his or her job to "challenge those in power" when Trump was president.
Once again, Houck covered up the fact that Psaki actually owned Doocy, writing of a Doocy question about Democratic Texas lawmakers leaving the state to stall a Republican-pushed voting restriction bill that "Doocy called out Psaki’s humorous dismissal, noting Biden’s eye-popping assertion that voter integrity measures pose the greatest threat to American democracy 'since the Civil War.'" In fact, as a more honest outlet pointed out, Psaki did not make a "humorous dismissal" of Doocy's question:
She went on to say the president believes these Democrats “were making a statement through action in opposition to efforts in their state to oppose restrictions on people’s fundamental rights and their rights to vote in their state.”
The next day, Houck cheered even more hostile questions from Doocy designed to push right-wing narratives:
Three days after first asking her if the administration would condemn communism and the far-left ideology’s gruesome affect on life inside Cuba, Fox News’s Peter Doocy finally got White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki to condemn on Thursday both communism and demand the regime grant “freedom” to the Cuban people.
On July 16, Houck gushed that another right-wing reporter joined Doocy in attacking Psaki (while making sure not to point out they are right-wing reporters) under the overexcited headline "BOOM":
Friday’s White House press briefing grew tense as the Biden administration continued its collusion with Facebook and the rest of Big Tech to crack down on dissent (under the guise of fighting misinformation about coronavirus vaccines).
Yes, Houck thinks that spreading lies and misinformation about vaccines is merely "dissent" and that calling it what it is -- misinformation -- is a political term, not a statement of fact (as is the current MRC narrative).
Houck then proceeded to further denigrate Psaki, claiming she engaging in "word salad" and "gaslighting," two things he had no problem with when his beloved Kayleigh McEnany was doing them. Apparently still missing her, he went on to name-check her: "Exit question: If this were still the Trump administration with Kayleigh McEnany at the podium saying these things, what would the chances have been that everyone from Yamiche Alcindor to Jim Acosta to Peter Alexander to Brian Karem to April Ryan would have blown a collective gasket?"
And what are the chances McEnany would also be serving up "word salad" and "gaslighting" in response, and Houck would say nothing?
Houck was pretty darn happy to have Doocy advance more right-wing talking points the July 20 briefing:
Tuesday’s White House Press Briefing was a welcome reprieve as Fox News’s Peter Doocy found himself with more than a few colleagues willing to join him in grilling Press Secretary Jen Psaki as ten reporters (including Doocy) lobbed one question after another about Texas Democrats fleeing Austin for Washington D.C. and triggering a superspreader of coronavirus cases.
On July 22, Houck cheered that "Thursday’s White House press briefing gave us another welcome surprise as Press Secretary Jen Psaki found herself under the gun from not just Fox’s Peter Doocy, but a variety of reporters on issues such as Covid cases inside the administration, Critical Race Theory, Hunter Biden’s artwork, and masking." And, as usual, Doocy got special attention -- and whitewashing about how he got owned by Psaki:
Doocy came next and things didn’t get any easier for Psaki. First, he wanted to know whether the Education Department will ensure that a pro-critical race theory group isn’t included in school curriculums seeing as how they had claimed its inclusion in new guidance was a mistake.
Here's how that exchange actually went down:
Doocy asked if the Biden administration “will follow up with school districts to make sure that the Abolitionist Teaching Network material is not in lesson plans.”
Houck is not going to admit Psaki won that exchange, nor will he admit that Doocy was parroting his employer's agenda. He didn't even bury the transcript in the item -- he simply censored it.
That's the bias -- and hostility to anyone not as right-wing as he is -- Houck brings to his so-called reviews of Psaki's press briefings.
Since the MRC is part of the right-wing anti-mask movement because personal inconveniences are more important to conservative ideologues than working toward the common good of slowing the spread of COVID, Houck embodied that in yet another Jen Psaki trash-fest regarding her July 27 briefing:
When there’s a White House press briefing in which the press corps doesn’t appear friendly with the Biden administration, you know it was a tough day at the office. Tuesday’s briefing was one of those rare days as Fox’s Peter Doocy was joined by over a half dozen colleagues in asking tough questions Press Secretary Jen Psaki refused to answer about the return of masks, even for vaccinated Americans.
As Mediaite's Tommy Christopher noted, this was little more than a gotcha session over masks -- but since this feeds into right-wing narratives, Houck clearly approved.
Houck was able to resume his Peter Doocy man-crushing for the July 29 briefing:
When it seemed like only a few of his colleagues were still outraged at the Biden administration’s decision to bring back indoor masking for much of the country (compared to with White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and President Biden over the regime’s inconsistent (and arguably misleading) messaging masks.
Houck accused Jean-Pierre -- whom he had previously denigrated as an purported diversity hire -- of offering "word salad," despite his never objecting when his beloved Kayleigh McEnany did so. He then gushed over Doocy's ambushing Biden on the mask issue:
Fast-forward to the press conference and Doocy repeatedly tried to shout a question to Biden, but unsurprisingly, he wasn’t interested.
As Christopher also pointed out -- but Houck didn't -- this exchange came after Biden praised Fox News for getting on board the pro-vaccination bandwagon, and that Biden's statements was not as false as Houck and Doocy want you to think it was, because "the whole reason the mask guidance has changed is that people aren’t getting vaccinated."
For the July 30 briefing, Houck decided that because the non-right-wing media had come to understand that the Delta variant has changed the mask debate, it was some kind of "liberal media" plot:
After a week that consisted of vehement pushback against the Biden administration’s new mask edict and threats of bringing back crippling Covid restrictions, the liberal media decided on Friday to fall in line during the White House press briefing with only Fox News’s Peter Doocy remaining skeptical about this sudden change.
This is a homophobic smear; Houck is trying to blame the outbreak on filthy LGBT people who were allegedly in Provincetown for a "bear week" event. In fact, the study covered many tourists in Provincetown over a longer period than that particular event, and it turned out that three-fourths of those who tested positive for COVID were fully vaccinated -- meaning that the people in Provincetown are much more "representative of the American populace" than Houck would like to admit. Nevertheless, Houck reveled in pushing the homophobic smears:
For the unaccustomed, “bears” could be defined as larger, masculine gay men with plenty of hair. And “Bear Week” in the Bay State has a reputation of involving plenty of poor life choices, including plenty of making out and gay sex.
Yes, Houck really thinks a failure to be heterosexual is a "poor life choice."
SIDEBAR: Houck hides another Doocy screw-up
Houck engaged in more Doocy stenography in his July 16 post, touting that "Doocy pushed back on Psaki’s claim that the posts are 'publicly open information' and thus fair game, asking whether the 12 people the administration believes hold the lion’s share of blame for misinformation have been told that the government is surveying them." The Washington Post's Aaron Blake pointed out that Doocy was wrong to portray the government as spying on these people. In May, the Center for Countering Digital Hate issued a list of 12 people it found to be responsible for a majority of disinformation about vaccines, which were all taken from publicly available posts. Blake continued:
Nor did anything in Psaki’s comments Thursday suggest that this was from some kind of government study or research project. But Doocy jumped from her stat to not just assuming that it was, but also that this amounted to “spying” and that the “spying” was specifically done by the surgeon general’s office (perhaps because Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy appeared with Psaki on Thursday?).
Houck will never admit any of this, of course -- the man-crush must continue unencumbered by the facts.