New Press Secretary, Same MRC Hate: June-July 2023
The Media Research Center not only kept up its usual hatred of White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, it also worked in a little hypocrisy about violations of the Hatch Act by press secretaries.
By Terry Krepel
Kevin Tober kicked off the June edition of the Media Research Center's ritual hatred of White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre in his writeup of the June 5 press briefing:
They say politics makes strange bedfellows. Monday’s White House press briefing held by the always incompetent White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre (KJP) and National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby proved that when both Daily Caller White House correspondent Diana Glebova and CBS senior White House correspondent Ed O’Keefe asked about the allegations that then-Vice President Joe Biden was involved in a bribery scheme.
Along the way, Tober embarrassingly gushed that biased Newsmax reporter James Rosen displayed a "line of questioning worthy of an Ivy League lawyer" (no mention that Rosen was forced to ply his skills at Newsmax because he got canned from Fox News for serial sexual harassment) and sneered that there was "what WMAL radio host Vince Coglianese refers to as the children’s press briefing hosted by KJP" that involved questions that don't advance right-wing narratives.
For the next day's briefing, Tober hypocritically cheered a Fox Business writer for going the children's briefing route:
At Tuesday's White House press briefing, the inept Biden White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre (KJP) was grilled by NewsMax’s James Rosen on Biden’s frequent falls. What started as a simple question turned into a full blown argument over whether Biden frequently stumbling is an issue to Americans.
Tober then devoted four paragraphs to gushing again over Rosen and how he "wasn’t playing around" in his biased questioning, adding some whining about Jean-Pierre's response: "KJP once again played dumb: 'you've paid a lot of attention to that particular situation. I Actually, did not see that. I was with him in Hiroshima so this is something that I was not aware of, so I can't speak to that particular moment.' She then listed off a number of Biden’s accomplishments in an attempt to deflect from Rosen’s actual question." He then complained when Jean-Pierre had enough of Rosen's bias:
KJP then got nasty and sneered: “You're asking me if we're going to change anything from here, the Chief of Staff has asked for it to change anything from here. And here's the thing, here's the thing. We are not. Things happen. Other Presidents have had similar situations.”
Funny, we recall when the MRC called them "mic drops" and cheered when Kayleigh McEnany did that.
The MRC's chief Karine-basher, Curtis Houck, returned for more Karine-bashing in writing about the June 7 briefing, attacking a Voice of America reporter for asking about Pride Month:
Along with PBS and NPR, there’s another taxpayer-funded outlet in the White House Briefing Room many Americans probably forget about: Voice of America. And why it matters is, in part, Wednesday’s briefing revealed how they’re just as far to the left as VOA reporter Anita Powell put a softball question about Pride Month on the tee for Press Secretary (and heralded lesbian) Karine Jean-Pierre.
Houck apparently believes that media outlets have worth only if they share his right-wing bias and hate LGBT people as much as he does.
Houck's writeup of the June 13 briefing complained that Jean-Pierre called out a biased reporter for using a question to attack transgender people:
Transgenderism was the center of attention for key moments in Tuesday’s White House press briefing as Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre denounced the “disrespectful,” “not appropriate,” and “unacceptable” behavior of a transgender woman (a man pretending to be a woman) flashing their upper region at a White House pride event, while also trashing pro-life reporter Owen Jensen for an “irresponsible” question about girls being forced to compete against biological men.
Houck also hyped another anti-LGBT question from a different right-wing reporter: "Heinrich also had a question about how they displayed of the pride flag at said event in a way that violated the U.S. flag code, but Jean-Pierre brushed that aside as a discussion meant to 'distract us from' supporting LGBTQ people."
Because Houck and Tober care only about trashing Jean-Pierre and promoting right-wing reporters without identifying their ideological bias, so they failed to write about the June 14 briefing in which she mocked Fox News for its ridiculous on-screen caption calling Biden a "wannabe dictator," laughing and declaring that "there are probably about 787 million things that I can say about this."
Houck did his best to suck up to a right-wing reporter who wasn't Peter Doocy -- and insert a dose of his employer's Hunter Biden Derangement Syndrome -- in his writeup of the June 26 White House press briefing:
Real Clear Politics’s Philip Wegmann closed out Monday’s White House press briefing as the only reporter in the press corps to grill ever-inept Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre over what’s, at minimum, a questionable lack of ethics by President Biden having son Hunter attend last week’s state dinner for the Indian prime minister with Attorney General Merrick Garland.
The next day, Houck took shots at a Jean-Pierre stand-in (as well as a former stand-in who wasn't even there) as the right-wing Hunter derangement continued:
Sadly depriving the public of the comically partisan White House Deputy Press Secretary Andrew Bates, the Biden regime trotted out Principal Deputy Press Secretary Olivia Dalton on Tuesday to fill in for Karine Jean-Pierre. In turn, Dalton faced some hardballs about the Biden economy, a faux-hardball from a Team Biden apple polisher, and new queries about Hunter Biden’s life of corruption.
And that was pretty much it for the month, aside from Tim Graham touting in his June 28 podcast how he and guest (and subordinate) Nicholas Fondacaro "took some time to mock White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre for skipping out on ABC’s The View for the lamest reason possible." Which tells you just how much a need to incessantly mock and smear this woman dominates their lives.
Hatch Act hypocrisy
Just like its now-defunct "news" division CNSNews.com, the Media Research Center cares only about Hatch Act violations by people in government when those people work for a Democratic administration. Tober complained in a June 12 post:
On Monday, NBC News had an exclusive report on their website revealing that President Biden’s incompetent press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre (KJP) was found to be in violation of the Hatch Act, a law enacted to strictly limit government officials from getting involved in campaigns. What made this ironic was that KJP frequently tied herself in knots to avoid answering questions due to her hiding behind the Hatch Act. Meanwhile, on Monday night, NBC Nightly News ignored their own network’s reporting.
By contrast, the MRC did not find it newsworthy when members of the Trump administration were found to have violated the Hatch Act. In November 2021, the Office of Special Counsel issued a report stating that numerous Trump officials -- including press secretary Kayleigh McEnany and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo -- violated the Hatch Act during the Trump years. The report stated that the Trump officials “intentionally ignored the law’s requirements and tacitly or expressly approved of senior administration officials violating the law.” The MRC completely ignored the report.
A couple weeks before that report came out, however, the MRC published a column by Cal Thomas asserting that Vice President Kamala Harris violated the Hatch Act by appearing in a video played at a church in which she encouraged viewers to vote for the Democratic candidate for Virginia governor and "even reminds them they can vote on Sundays and urges them to do so following their church service, presumably after worshipping an Authority higher than the state."
On top of that, a July 2020 post by Adam Burnett demonstrated the dismissive attitude the MRC took toward Hatch Act violations during the Trump years; when a commentator noted how Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway has repeatedly violated it, Burnett huffed in response: "It should be noted that Hatch Act violations are rarely prosecuted and there are deep questions still about the constitutionality of the law." Further, an August 2020 post by Scott Whitlock mocked MSNBC host Joy Reid for pointing out that Trump cabinet members who attended Trump's Republican National Convention acceptance speech,. given at the White House, was likely violating the Hatch Act.
Jeffrey Lord dismissed the Hatch Act further in a June 2019 column: "The idea that the White House staff in any presidency is somehow 'violating' the Hatch Act is ridiculous. The presidency itself is a political institution - with all policy decisions always involving politics."
Going back before Trump, when there was a Democratic president, the MRC raged against a fictional violation of the Hatch Act. An October 2016 post by Karen Townsend attacked an episode of the TV show "Madam Secretary" for showing "a flagrant violation of the Hatch Act while politicizing the NFL. A two-for-one!" After describing the alleged fictional offense, Townsend huffed: "Sounds like current election shenanigans, right? The rules only apply to some people, not all." We don't recall Townsend complaining about Hatch Act "shenanigans" under Trump.
The MRC didn't care about Hatch Act violations when Trump officials violated it, so it's hypocritical for them to suddenly care when a Democratic official is involved.
Bill D'Agostino test-drove a new line of attack on Jean-Pierre in a July 5 post:
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre has been widely criticized for her inability to field even basic inquiries about the scandals plaguing President Biden. Despite the President’s January 2021 pledge to “bring transparency and truth back to the government,” Jean-Pierre has failed to answer practically every such question she’s faced.
D'Agostino huffily concluded:
During the last administration, clips of White House correspondents grilling press secretaries about the latest Trump scandal were commonplace on evening newscasts. Now that they’ve disappeared following the decline in coverage of the document scandal, it’s a wonder why reporters even bother to raise such issues during the briefings.
Houck, meanwhile, spent his writeup of the July 5 briefing complaining that Jean-Pierre, yes, wouldn't answer questions involving the right-wing outrage narrative du jour:
Whether it’s the Biden documents scandal, allegations of Biden family corruption, or the latest twist in Hunter Biden’s life of ruin to name a few, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre has consistently stuck to the theme of playing dumb when faced with even gentle questions from the liberal White House press corps. Such was the case Wednesday concerning the bag of cocaine found in the West Wing.
Tim Graham decided to tag Jean-Pierre with a disgusting toilet reference, sleazily referring to her as "Latrine Jean-Pierre" in the headline of his July 7 column:
White House briefings in the Biden years are often sleepy meetings compared to the Jim Acosta shriek-fests we remember under Trump. Joe Biden pledged he would be so much nicer to the press corps. He promised to “bring transparency and truth back to the government.” But the press is much nicer to him than the other way around.
Graham, like D'Agostino, failed to disclose that the Trump White House went more than a year without holding a briefing or to mention McEnany's legacy of dodging questions.
In his writeup of the July 7 briefing, Houck cheered a right-wing reporter advancing a right-wing narrative:
Friday marked only the second White House press briefing of the week in which reporters could question Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre about the bag of cocaine found in the West Wing. While 13 reporters pressed Jean-Pierre on Wednesday about it, only one would on Friday (and a second to National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan).
Houck went on to complain that "nearly two dozens questions [sic] were allegedly "skipped over" by Jean-Pierre that allegedly didn't need to wait for Secret Service clearance; needless to say, he was silent on his beloved McEnany's history of dodging questions.
Graham had D'Agostino on his July 7 podcast to discuss Jean-Pierre's question-dodging, while not similarly calling out the Trump administration's question evasion, in part by not holding press briefings at all.
Houck metaphorically traveled abroad to tout biased questions from right-wing reporters aimed at the Biden White House in a July 11 post:
During a Tuesday morning press briefing on the sidelines of the NATO conference in Vilnius, Lithuania, the New York Post’s Steven Nelson broke from the press corps’s focus on NATO and the war in Ukraine to question National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan on a new twist in the Biden family’s business dealings with a Chinese state-affiliated energy company and a report alleging collusion between the FBI, Ukrainian intelligence, and Big Tech.
Houck did make sure to get in a shot at the White House press secretary he despises so much:
Later in the briefing, one reporter tried to ask Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre if there was any update in the probe for who brought cocaine into the White House. Unfortunately, Jean-Pierre did what she usually does, which was deflect (and specifically to Secret Service).
Back home several days later, Houck returned to his usual rage at Jean-Pierre and hying biased right-wing questions in his writeup of the July 18 White House press briefing:
On Tuesday afternoon, the White House press briefing with the ever-inept Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre had it all with some tense exchanges (Fox’s Jacqui Heinrich over anti-Semitism in the Democratic Party), softballs (the AP and USA Today on alleged treatment of illegal immigrants), and the delusional (a far-left blogger asking about potential violence from Trump supporters).
Houck hyped how non-right-wing reporters helped forward right-wing narratives in his writeup of the July 26 briefing:
On Wednesday after the shocking collapse of Hunter Biden’s plea deal, there were a few White House reporters who grilled Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre in her abbreviated turn at the podium (due to her use of John Kirby as her crutch for nearly 35 of the almost 58-minute briefing) on the events in Delaware as well as ongoing questions about Biden family corruption.
As usual, Houck failed to identify the right-wing political affiliations of Wegmann, Lucas and Rosen.