The Media Research Center continues its orgy of Doocy-fluffing and degradation of White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.
By Terry Krepel Posted 10/21/2022
The Media Research Center's Curtis Houck began anothermonth of smearing White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre -- and fluffing Fox News' biased Peter Doocy -- with an orgy of Doocy-fluffing over the Aug. 1 briefing:
On Monday afternoon, reporters saw John Kirby emerge yet again for the White House press briefing as chaperone for the incoherent and stammering Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and while there were some tough questions for Kirby on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) rumored trip to Taiwan, Fox’s Peter Doocy made Jean-Pierre crumble on the so-called Inflation Reduction Act that, according to some estimates, raise taxes on low and middle-class Americans.
As he often does, Doocy began with a basic question: “Is President Biden thinking about pulling his support for the Inflation Reduction Act?”
A confused Jean-Pierre said “no,” so Doocy explained why he asked what he did: “Because he promised it wasn't gonna raise taxes on anybody making less than $400,000 a year, but the Joint Committee on Taxation says that is not true.”
Jean-Pierre maintained “that is incorrect,” so Doocy pressed once more: “So, the Joint Committee on Taxation, which you guys heralded as an effective body when you were selling the infrastructure package, is not to be trusted here?”
Like many of the Biden administration’s spending proposals, Jean-Pierre insisted the JCT was wrong because their analysis was “incomplete” and “omit[ted] the actual benefits that Americans would receive” on energy and prescription drugs.
Doocy pivoted with the timing remaining to see why the White House hadn’t responded to a provocative threat from a Communist Chinese government official that they would shoot down Pelosi’s plan if she were to visit Taiwan.
Given her ineptitude, Jean-Pierre initially said she had “not seen those reports” before condemning it as “unnecessary” since “there’s no change in the One China policy.”
Houck went the Doocy-fluffing route again against another Biden official for the Aug. 2 briefing:
As he did on Monday (and numerous times before that), National Security Council spokesman John Kirby helmed much of Tuesday’s White House press briefing to assist the inept Karine Jean-Pierre, but there were was still some tough exchanges and softballs. Of course, Fox’s Peter Doocy was in the middle of it as he battled Kirby over the inevitability of Afghanistan returning to its place as a safe harbor for terrorists following last year’s disastrous U.S. withdrawal.
“John, something you’ve just said is not consistent with what we were told last year. You’re saying that you’ve always known there was a small number of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. President Biden said, ‘What interests do we have in Afghanistan, at this point, with al Qaeda gone,’” Doocy began.
Kirby conceded that al-Qaeda hasn’t been “playing a major role,” but they nonetheless “had a presence.”
As he often does, it was Doocy’s second question that upped the heat: “So, we know that the Taliban was harboring the world’s most wanted terrorist. You guys gave a whole country to a bunch of people that are on the FBI Most Wanted list. What did you think was going to happen?”
With less first-hand experience with Doocy (though the Pentagon press corps are tough and professional), Kirby stammered, insisting he’d “take issue with the premise that we gave a whole country to terrorist groups.”
Before Kirby could finish, Doocy hit again: “The Taliban was harboring the world’s number one terrorist. How is that not giving a country to a terrorist-sympathizing group, if not giving them permission to have terrorists just sit on a balcony?”
For the Aug. 3 briefing, Houck amped up his narrative of Jean-Pierre as an incompetent diversity hire (and, of course, amped up his Doocy-fluffing):
Early Wednesday afternoon, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre decided to face reporters solo for a press briefing, doing so for only the 14th time out of her 41 briefings since taking the top job. And, as part of this hapless endeavor, she faced questions from both the left and right on abortion with the Biden administration set to expand the funding for abortions s well as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) visit to Taiwan.
Fox’s Peter Doocy used his time to press Jean-Pierre on the latter topic, starting with this quip that left Jean-Pierre chuckling about his word choice: “How come Republicans seem more jazzed about Speaker Pelosi’s trip than the President?”
“You’re going to have to ask Republicans. 'Jazzed?' Do they have jazz hands, Peter,” Jean-Pierre replied, adding in her attempt at some parental humor.
Doocy kept pressing, wondering why it’s “so hard for the President just to say, ‘she’s a brave trailblazer, and I think it’s great that she went,’ like so many others” have, but Jean-Pierre followed John Kirby’s lead in sidestepping any attempt to praise Taiwan, insisting Biden views Pelosi in a broad sense as “a great trailblazer.”
Kirby was once again the target of Houck's ire (and Doocy-fluffing) for the Aug. 4 briefing:
A longtime diplomatic and military spokesman in the Obama and Biden administrations, John Kirby has exhibited a calm, cogent demeanor, so it was surprising on Thursday when Kirby appeared miffed as Fox’s Peter Doocy pressed him on the Biden administration’s posture towards China and then as Today News Africa’s Simon Ateba repeatedly interrupted the briefing and demanded he be called on.
Doocy led off with a cutting take for Kirby, who joined the inept White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre for the third time in four days: “Why is it that, over the last couple of months, President Biden’s been so much tougher on Russia than he is on China?”
Kirby seemed flat-footed, saying he “wouldn’t agree with the premise of the question.”
Perhaps Kirby thought it was a stupid question given that, unlike China, Russia has been engaged in an active, unwarranted war for the last couple months. something neither Doocy nor Houck had considered. But Houck was back to his usual, tired, Jean-Pierre-bashing soon enough:
Later, Doocy had a crack at Jean-Pierre: “Based on everything that's happening in Asia right now, does President Biden consider China to be an opponent or a competitor?”
When she failed to provide a real answer besides talking points about Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) having “the right to travel wherever she wants” and that’d include Taiwan, Doocy tried again: “[W]ith the relationship moving forward, though, would he consider China a competitor or an opponent of the United States?”
Jean-Pierre didn’t dodge this second attempt (even though it projected one of weakness): “[W]e want to be able to compete. We want to be able to compete with China and we want to be able to have those manufacturing jobs, investment in in the United States and also strengthen our supply chain, make sure we strengthen our national security.”
Of course, Houck thinks any answer Jean-Pierre gives is from a point of "weakness" compared with his sainted Doocy.
Perhaps sensing he wasn't going to have the opportunity to do much in the near future, Curtis Houck worked as much Doocy-fluffing as he could in his writeup of the Aug. 9 briefing, touting his right-wing narrative-pushing over the "FBI raid" at Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago compound:
With President Biden having spent Monday in flood-stricken Kentucky and departing Wednesday for vacation in South Carolina, Tuesday marked perhaps the week's only White House briefing, so reporters got in their takes about the FBI raid of former President Trump's Florida home. Of course, Fox's Peter Doocy did battle with Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on the raid and whether the White House would do anything to pushback arguments that they've weaponized law enforcement against opponents.
Doocy led off with a round-about way of asking about the raid: “Do you consider Donald Trump to be a political rival of President Biden?” When Jean-Pierre insisted she wouldn't “speak to that from here,” he countered with the fact that Biden “talks about Trump all time.” Incredibly, she disputed it: “Ehhh, I don't talk about Trump all the time.”
Despite a series of audible scoffs, Doocy noted a few recent examples, starting with one of the administrations catchphrases for the GOP: “Ultra-MAGA, you guys were criticizing his handling of COVID last week. You've mentioned his January 6 response a couple days ago. So, can you say, based on all that--I didn't say anything about Mar-a-Lago."
Doocy tried again, but Jean-Pierre ducked, leaving the Fox reporter with another approach in citing Biden's own declaration against him that he'd “be very fortunate if I had [Trump] running against me” in 2024. Jean-Pierre tried to interjected that she wasn't “going to comment on” the raid despite Doocy's insistence that “it's just a quote from the President”
Bashing TV appearances
The MRC couldn't kick around Jean-Pierre at the podium the rest of that week, so it kicked her around when she made TV appearances elsewhere (an MRC staple). Alex Christy complained an Aug. 12 post:
Stephen Colbert welcomed White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre onto his Thursday CBS show where he lobbed several softballs her way including wondering how is the White House mending the relationship with the press and wondering how Joe Biden has been so successful.
Regretting how the previous administration treated the press, Colbert declared, “So, whenwhenwhen-- y'all, you know, came into office 18 months ago, one of the things, the goals stated was, to kind of, repair the relationship between that press office and the press.”
Being a good press secretary, Jean-Pierre gave all credit to Biden, but gas prices are still high, inflation is still bad, and the climate billcalled the Inflation Reduction Actwon’t reduce inflation. No wonder the White House has an easier relationship with the media than its predecessor.
Christy made sure not to mention all the softballs Houck and his boss, Tim Graham, tossed to former Trump press secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Graham's podcast earlier this year.
The same day, Aidan Moorehouse cheered that Jean-Pierre was asked challenging questions in a CNN appearance, under the sneering headline "You Love To See It":
In an unexpected but not unwelcome act of journalism on Friday morning, CNN anchor and New Day co-host Brianna Keilar pushed back on White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre’s misleading answers about the Inflation Reduction Act.
Keilar began with the simple question of whether or not the White House is confident all Democrats in the House will vote for the bill. Jean-Pierre said “we are confident” about Pelosi’s ability to whip her caucus to vote for the bill, but not before misspeaking and calling the Inflation Reduction Act a “really critical, important anti-inflammation bill out of the Senate.”
It isn’t often that CNN hosts push back hard against Democratic talking points, so NewsBusters likes to highlight it when they do. Kudos to Keilar for a tough but not obnoxiously aggressive interview.
The MRC never likes it when Republicans are asked challenging questions.
Kevin Tober cheered even more interview pushback (even if it wasn't to full Doocy-level hostility) in an Aug. 14 post:
On Sunday’s edition of ABC’s This Week, viewers witnessed a random act of journalism from co-anchor Jonathan Karl who challenged White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on why the recently passed legislation referred to as the Inflation Reduction Act should be called that since according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the legislation will have a negligible effect on inflation at best. Karl even suggested the name sounded Orwellian.
Before getting to that question, Karl started out by sucking up to the Biden administration and their economic record. He bemoaned how “just 37 percent of Americans approve of President Biden's handling of the economy” and “70 percent say they felt the economy was getting worse.”
“We have since learned that inflation actually abated in July,” Karl proclaimed. “Why is it that if things are getting better, so many Americans are unhappy with President Biden’s handling of it?”
Jean-Pierre repeated the Biden administration’s claim that there was “zero percent of inflation” last month and credited the Inflation Reduction Act for working “to lower costs for Americans.”
While Karl did ask the right question, he’s too late. The time to challenge the Biden administration about the Orwellian named “Inflation Reduction Act” would’ve been before it was passed by Congress and signed into law, not after.
To the MRC, though, any question designed to attack and denigrate a member of a Democratic administration is the "right" question.
The MRC was continuing to denigrate Jean-Pierre's TV appearances as well. Kevin Tober huffed in an Aug. 25 post:
On CNN’s Don Lemon Tonight on CNN, host Don Lemon asked White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre to explain what President Joe Biden meant when he accused Republicans of holding a political philosophy of “semi-fascism.” Since nobody in the country including, presumably, the President knows what that means, Lemon thought it would be wise to ask his spokesperson Jean-Pierre. Unfortunately for Lemon, it was clear she was struggling to define it as well.
Lemon got right to the question at the beginning of the interview: “the President likened what he called extreme MAGA philosophy to semi-fascism. What exactly is semi-fascism, Karine?”
Jean-Pierre went into a long monologue about what Biden has allegedly done for the country:
Clearly frustrated with her filibustering and avoiding the question posed to her, Lemon interjected “with all due respect. We have a short amount of time. I want to get to all those things But if you'll answer my question, we can get to those things.”
Instead of answering, Jean-Pierre got snotty with Lemon shrieking “by having this back and forth we are actually taking away from the time.”
Jean-Pierre falsely claimed Republicans are “attacking our democracy, they are taking away our freedom, and they are trying to put on the chopping blocks Medicare and Social Security.”
Despite her lies and not actually defining what “semi-fascism” is, Lemon responded, “thank you for answering that question.”
Tober didn't disprove any of the alleged "lies" Jean-Pierre told.
Houck began his attack on Jean-Pierre's Aug. 24 press briefing by unironically whining: "Thanks to President Biden’s seemingly endless vacations, Wednesday marked the first White House press briefing in 15 days." Houck never complained that White House briefings under Donald Trump were irregular at best -- with one press secretary refusing to hold any briefings at all -- and we certainly don't recall him complaining about how much time Trump spent away from the White House at his properties. From there, it was back to his usual smears that Jean-Pierre was "stammering" and lacking "succinctness" while praising right-wing reporters Peter Doocy and Philip Wegmann as being "locked and loaded":
Wegmann got her [sic] turn in the first portion of the briefing with NEC Deputy Director Bharat Ramamurti when he asked Ramamurti whether it’s“really bottom up, middle out” considering the fact that they “structure[d] this policy in a way that would provide up to $40,000 in debt [relief] for a married couple making up to $249,000.”
Once her crutches (i.e. Ramamurti and [Domestic Policy Advisor Susan] Rice) were taken away, Jean-Pierre was on her own. Doocy eventually got his crack and, like usual, started with a short question: “[H]ow can the country afford such a massive handout?”
Jean-Pierre actually had the gall to reply that “Ambassador Rice said that she’s happy to have that discussion” and that it’s because Biden “brought down the deficit” by “$1.7 trillion” “at the end of the fiscal year.”
Doocy countered: “And might spend $300 to $900 billion extra. So you can do that and not increase the deficit?”
Jean-Pierre had already run out of bullets, so she spent the remaining three-plus minutes with Doocy insisting “we are doing this responsibly” as it’s "important for middle-class Americans" in alleged contrast to the 2017 tax cuts.
Doocy kept asking who’d cover the tab for these student loan wipeouts, but she had nothing [.]
With that filibustering answer at the end, Doocy interjected to put a stop to this and asked six more times, but all Jean-Pierre could utter was that she had “laid out” how it’ll be done[.]
As if Doocy asking the same question six more times because he didn't like the answer he was given wasn't its own form of filibustering.
Houck went on the attack again over the Aug. 25 briefing:
Thursday’s White House press briefing represented the massive political landmine that’s become the Biden administration’s plan to forgive $10 to $20 million in student loans for Americans making under $125,000 as, for the second day in a row, reporters from across the political spectrum had serious concerns about its legality, purpose, and rollout.
Actually, it's $10,000 to $20,000 -- so much for attention to factual accuracy, which surely translates to giving readers no reason to trust his highly biased attacks on Jean-Pierre. Indeed, Houck blew past his factual error to fluff another right-wing reporter for spouting biased talking points:
Fox’s Jacqui Heinrich got her first crack at Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre in a some time by pointing out a basic truth about the disconnect between the alleged legal justification for the bailout and the administration’s rhetoric about the pandemic:
The Heroes Act hinges on student debt cancellation being tied to the pandemic and that being a national emergency, but the administration argued in court that the pandemic is over at the southern border to lift Title 42. It’s so over that the government is going to stop buying vaccines in the fall and shift to the private sector.
“[H]ow is COVID a national emergency when it comes to student debt,” she asked.
Jean-Pierre insisted “it’s a good question and I’m glad you asked it,” explaining the Heroes Act (which was enacted after 9/11 for first responders) fit “because there are going to be some people when we lift the pause that's still going to suffer” with their remaining student loan payments.
Heinrich asked if it’s due to the economy, but Jean-Pierre insisted it was based on their earnings versus the payments since “the economy has been turned back on because of the work that this President has done.”
Jean-Pierre inadvertently walked right into Heinrich’s next point:
[T]he President often says...we're not in a recession because we've got...record job market, record low unemployment, businesses investing in America at record rates. So why are those appropriate conditions to forgive student debt?
Despite the record inflation and high gas prices, the press secretary acted as though Heinrich had done her a favor and thanked her “for laying out all the work that the President has done.”
Heinrich closed with the reality that even the liberal “Washington Post editorial board says that...it, you know, takes money from the broader tax base, mostly made up workers who didn’t go to college, to subsidize education debt of people with valuable degrees.”
Heinrich added how, beyond that, “there are critics that are saying this is not about the pandemic. It’s not about those conditions. This is about getting people to vote ahead of the midterms, that the real national emergency is Democrats in the midterm elections.”
Jean-Pierre hit back that she “disagree[s] with everything that you just laid out” and noted that some Democrats are unhappy because it wasn’t big enough.
In his writeup of the Aug. 29 briefing, Houck unsurprisingly cheered Doocy's biased questions regarding pet MRC victim Novak Djokovic (which he dishonestly framed as "basic") to Jean-Pierre, whom he yet again portrayed as an incompetent diversity hire:
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre had quite the Monday as, near the end of an otherwise lackluster briefing with little in the way of pressing exchanges, Fox’s Peter Doocy leveled some basic questions about a double standard on the border and the coronavirus that left Jean-Pierre spinning her wheels.
Having quipped that she “could have walked away” to end the briefing (as the AP’s Zeke Miller had given the hook) and Doocy’s plea that he’ll “make it worth it,” he started with simple premise in light of the U.S. Open getting underway: “How come migrants are allowed to come into this country unvaccinated but world-class tennis players are not?”
With Doocy having alluded to former world number one men’s tennis player Novak Dojokvic being unable to enter the U.S. because he’s unvaccinated, Jean-Pierre declined comment because “visa records are confidential under U.S. law” and the U.S. also can’t “comment on medical information of individual travelers.”
Jean-Pierre seemed to have thought she really threaded the needle by passing the buck to the CDC as their “requirement for foreign nationals,” but Doocy tired to keep her on subject by wondering why then can anyone walk across the southern border, regardless of their vaccination status (or any requirement for that matter).
Incredibly, Jean-Pierre claimed “that’s not how it works,” leaving an exasperated Doocy to fact-check her (click “expand”):
Representing anyone feeling incredulous after having listened to that excuse, he called out the spin: “I know that that’s not what you guys want to happen, but that is what happ what is happening.”
Jean-Pierre made matter even worse for herself by replying that “it’s not like somebody walks over” before stammering and leaving Doocy with an opening to forcefully reply:
That’s exactly what’s happening. Thousands of people are walking in a day. Some of them turn themselves over. Some of them are caught; tens of thousands a week are not. That is what is happening.
The hapless White House official retreated to her binder with a lengthy answer about “what we have done under this administration” with “new border technology and set up joint protocols with Mexico and Guatemala” to target human traffickers and dole out “record levels of funding for the Department of Homeland Security.”
For the Aug. 31 briefing, it was more cookies for Doocy and Philip Wegmann for advancing right-wing narratives and criticizing non-right-wing reporters for not doing the same thing:
Ahead of President Biden’s Thursday night address set to call over 70 million people a national security threat because they vote Republican, Wednesday’s White House press briefing featured a robust defense by the press corps of such dangerous rhetoric while CBS’s Nancy Cordes and Real Clear Politics’s Philip Wegmann pushed back. On a separate topic, Fox’s Peter Doocy hammered the administration on how border policies exacerbate drug overdoses.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre laid the groundwork, telling the AP’s Chris Megerian that Biden believes half the country poses “an extremist threat to democracy,” “freedoms,” and “rights.” This left Reuters’s Jeff Mason to commence the softballs, asking whether Biden and his administration are “satisfied that FBI agents are getting the protection that they need as a result of these threats” by Republicans.
Real Clear Politics’s Philip Wegmann respectfully pushed back on this insanity, twice asking whether Biden’s talking about such a large swath of the country: “When it comes to voters, how does the President differentiate between the ultra-MAGA folks who he sees an extremist threat to democracy and the average GOP voter?”
Jean-Pierre insisted their problem is with “the MAGA Republicans in leadership,” but she changed her tune and broadened it out to “an extreme part of...the party” after he asked a follow-up: “So, for folks sitting at home, when the President is talking about preserving the soul of the nation and those threats to democracy, he's not referring to those individuals. He's talking about Republican leadership?”
Doocy took things in a different direction on Overdose Awareness Day: “There’s a big problem now that rainbow fentanyl, which is designed to target children, has been found in 18 states. What specifically is the President doing about this?”
Jean-Pierre insisted that, along with “observing” that day, she argued the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will spend $80 million on “drug prevention.”
Obviously, this didn’t fly with Doocy: “But 300 over doses a day now. We know how the fentanyl is coming into the country. It’s coming right across the southern border. The DEA administrator says so. So, when is the President going to do something more to stop this?”
Jean-Pierre boasted that it’s being addressed since there’s been “a 200 percent increase of fentanyl seizures,” but Doocy cut through with this devastating reality: “[L]ife expectancies are going down at a rate not seen in a century and part of that is being driven by drug overdoses, so what is the President going to do to stop this?”
Things got even worse after Jean-Pierre falsely claimed the Biden administration has been “securing the border” and giving “record levels of funding” to “DHS, so they can stop illicit drugs.”
The usually aggressive but even-keeled Doocy seemed to have had enough. Pathetically, Jean-Pierre argued it was offensive for Doocy to argue the administration wasn’t addressing this crisis[.]