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New Press Secretary, Same MRC Hate: August-September 2023

The Media Research Center served up even more fanboyish gushing over Peter Doocy after his return to the White House briefing room from paternity leave. PLUS: The MRC flip-flops on Simon Ateba, finally getting tired of his briefing-room antics.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 12/18/2023

August was a light month for Karine Jean-Pierre-bashing at the Media Research Center because there were fewer White House press briefings due to President Biden being on vacation. That didn't stop her from living rent-free in the collective heads of the MRC, of course. Tim Graham spent an Aug. 17 post whining that Snopes pointed out that a claim attributed to Jean-Pierre was coming from a satire website; Graham conceded that Snopes was correct but whined about purported "selection bias" anyway:
The "independent fact-checkers" have a knee-jerk pattern of rushing to the defense of Team Biden. They're not always wrong about the facts. But their selection bias is obvious. Jordan Liles had to decry a satire site that might convince some dullards in an article titled:
Did Karine Jean-Pierre 'Admit' Biden Won't Visit Maui After Fires Because 'It's Not a Swing State'?
That headline should be obvious. Any competent press secretary would never say such a thing out loud if that were the internal calculation. (Now insert the joke that Karine Jean-Pierre isn't one of those.)


The byline on this bogus piece is "Flagg Eagleton, Patriot," which ought to put your tongue in your cheek.Then they turn to their own fake White House correspondent, named "Tara Newhole." There's no video for evidence. As Snopes explained, there is no one at Telemundo named Joseph Barron. The Dunning-Kruger Times describes its content as containing "parody, satire, and tomfoolery."

So the fact check is accurate -- in Biden's defense.

But conservatives have raised the point that Biden has yet to live up to his pledge to visit East Palestine, Ohio after the toxic train derailment there.

But the Snopes fact-check did not mention East Palestine, so there's no reason for Graham to bring it up here other than to play whataboutism.

What August lacked in hatred of press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, however, it more than made up with excessive fluffing of biased Fox News reporter Peter Doocy. The boys at the MRC are such Doocy stans that Kevin Tober wrote an overly excited Aug. 7 post ("HE"S BACK!") gushing that Doocy popped up on "Fox & Friends" during the midst of his paternity leave, where he "showed pictures of his daughter" and noted that she was wearing a presidential onesie ("Peter said he had gotten it from someone who works at the White House. Though he wouldn't say who exactly"). Tober closed by drooling: "From all of us here at NewsBusters, welcome back, Peter! And congratulations to you and Hillary on the new baby!" You can't make this stuff up, folks.

When the press briefings restarted later in the month, Curtis Houck was unable to hide his hero-worship for Doocy's full return from paternity leave, under the embarrassing headline "Return of the King," in his writeup of the Aug. 28 briefing:

Fox White House correspondent Peter Doocy finally made his return to the White House Briefing Room Monday after paternity leave and, given his long time away, he came out guns blazing on Biden family corruption and even the latest attempt by the federal bureaucracy to further encroach on the lives of ordinary Americans. On both counts, he made Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre look even more inept.

Following pleasantries between the two (with Jean-Pierre insisting, “I’ve missed you”), Doocy led with a question he predicted she “probably [was] not expecting”: “Does President Biden want to limit Americans to two beers a week?”

Jean-Pierre was exasperated: “I — I — where is this coming from? Maybe I did — maybe I didn’t miss you so much. Where is this — where is this coming from?”

Doocy then explained it came from “Dr. George Koob, who is the director of the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism,” who “says the U.S. may soon follow Canada and recommend just two beers a week.”

Asked how the administration “think[s] that’s going to go over,” Jean-Pierre ducked, saying “what I’m not going to get in involved in” is “that question right there” and instead she’d cede to “the experts.”

Doocy then pivoted to Hunter Biden and his life of ruin with two simple questions that, in classic Doocy fashion, led to a larger narrative. The first? “The Secret Service is paying $16,000 a month now to stage near Hunter Biden in Malibu. Who’s paying for that?”

Houck couldn't stop gushing further over Doocy -- adding his biased correspondent wife into the mix as well -- in his writeup of the Aug. 29 briefing:

After Monday’s smashing return to the White House Briefing Room, Fox’s Peter Doocy had a new topic to do battle with Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre over. Monday’s foray concerned Biden family corruption and another example of the expanding nanny state, but Tuesday focused on a captured ISIS sympathizer that had been working to smuggle people across the U.S.-Mexico border.

Prior to Doocy’s back-and-forth, Jean-Pierre was also under the gun from Doocy’s wife, Hillary Vaughn of the Fox Business Network, over transgenderism continuing to infect women’s sports. Vaughn started by wondering if Biden agreed with 2024 GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley that transgenderism encroaching on girls sports “is the women’s issue of our time.”

Jean-Pierre wasn’t amused based on her answers. Lamenting “we’ve talked about this many times” and “[t]he Department of Education proposed a rule...that gives schools the flexibility to establish their own athletics policies” on a topic that’s “a complicated issue.”

Of course, it isn’t. And Vaughn made that clear: “The President has granddaughters. Does he care that girls are allowed to compete in sports without the fear of injury? Does he think it’s fair for girls to have to compete against biological males?”

Jean-Pierre stammered some before reiterating the cockamamie assertion that this “is a complicated issue” and “[t]here is no yes or no answer to this.”

Doocy closed the briefing with his exchange, starting with a simple question: “How is it possible that an ISIS sympathizer is sneaking people into this country?”

Houck slobbered over Doocy's bias even more in his writeup of the Aug. 30 briefing:

During Wednesday’s Doocy Time at the White House press briefing, one of the questions from Fox White House correspondent Peter Doocy drew looks of incredulousness and disgust from liberal journalists seated next to and behind him. Doocy’s crime? Asking White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre if the response to Hurricane Idalia was smoother vs. the Hawaii wildfires because President Biden wasn’t on vacation.

Doocy was blunt: “[I]t seems like the hurricane response so far is robust. Did you guys realize that the initial Hawaii wildfire response was not that good, or is it just easier for people to get help from the White House when the President is not on vacation?”

As he finished, NBC’s Peter Alexander closed his eyes and raised his eyebrows as if he couldn’t believe Doocy’s query and, behind them, liberal reporter Annie Linskey of The Wall Street Journal did the same before briefly squinting in Doocy’s direction.

Jean-Pierre, not surprisingly, was also taken aback and told him that she “disagr[eed]” with “the premise of your question and the way you pose the question.”


Spoiler alert: Of course Hawaii’s governor and two senators would sing Biden’s praises given they are, in fact, Democrats, and it’s what partisans do for each other.

And Graham wonders why Snopes needs to point out satire that can easily be treated as "news" in the right-wing bubble.

Note also that Houck made a point of identifying the Wall Street Journal correspondent as a "liberal reporter," but he has never explicitly labeled Doocy as "right-wing" or "conservative" reporter -- ironic given how much the MRC loves to lecture others about labeling bias.


For his first writeup after the Labor Day weekend, Houck cheered the usual biased questions hurled by right-wing reporters at the Sept. 5 White House press briefing and whined that Jean-Pierre gave a nice farewell to a non-right-wing reporter:

Tuesday’s White House press briefing offered a contrast in exchanges as, not long after White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre yuked it up with outgoing NBC White House correspondent Kristen Welker as Welker leaves for Meet the Press, Fox’s Peter Doocy grilled Jean-Pierre on President Biden’s age and his refusal to visit East Palestine, Ohio.

Doocy surely grabbed eyeballs when he lead with this question: “President Biden is the oldest President in U.S. history. Why does White House staff treat him like a baby?”

Jean-Pierre scoffed: “No one treats the President of the United States, the commander-in-chief, like a baby. That’s ridiculous. That’s a ridiculous claim.”


Doocy then pivoted: “Why do you think it is in the Wall Street Journal poll, two-thirds of Democrats think President Biden is too old to run again?”

Given the poll’s prominence in the news cycle, Jean-Pierre had a long, canned answer that included her insisting in part that she “can speak to...a President who has wisdom...experience,” and “taken historic action and has delivered historic pieces of legislation.”


In contrast, Jean-Pierre opened her portion of Q&A by paying tribute to Welker, noting how “we were talking earlier and you said you have covered the White House for about a decade” and that, with her move to Meet the Press, “we will miss you and we are incredibly thrilled and excited for you in your new adventure”.

Jean-Pierre laid it on thick as only a liberal spokesperson could for a comrade in the liberal media, even with an allusion to Welker taking the historic step as an African-American woman:

The next day, another post by Houck complained that reporters also asked about Jill Biden's COVID diagnosis. He continued to whine about it when reporters did the same in the Sept. 6 briefing:

Hours before Vogue published an nauseously soft puff piece on the ever-inept White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, Wednesday’s press briefing featured more of what we saw on Tuesday with reporters showing their COVID skittishness by grilling her form the left on the virus in light of the First Lady’s positive test. But, in similar fashion, only a few showed up to do their jobs.

This time, it was CBS’s Weijia Jiang bringing Hunter Biden questions and Fox’s Jacqui Heinrich calling out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) remaining hellbent on mask recommendations for kids.


Heinrich closed the briefing by pointing out that “CDC still recommends universal indoor masking for kids in school, students, staff” despite that being “out of step with some of the studies around the usefulness of masks for kids” and thus why should taxpayers “keep funding these studies if the CDC is not making guidance that follows the results of those studies?”

Lacking an answer, Jean-Pierre instead bashed the Trump administration as “incapable” of controlling COVID whereas the Biden administration carried out “a strategy to really, truly deal with COVID-19 and this pandemic.”

Don't worry, Houck also made sure to have a meltdown over that Vogue profile as well:

On Thursday, Vogue spilled 3,700-plus words swooning over White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre like millennials screaming at a Taylor Swift concert in a puff piece so nauseously pathetic it’d make the lady in North Korea or those who toil away at, say, China Daily blush.

Or, you know, Curtis Houck's embarrassing fawning over Peter Doocy. His whinefest continued:

Partnered with model shoot from Norman Jean Joy, writer Mattie Kahn gushed over Jean-Pierre as “a realist,” woman of “history” as the first black woman and gay person to helm the White House Briefing Room, embodying the “memes about elder sisters,” and possessing a “quality of directness—blunt, with a touch of compassion.”

The headline screamed state-run TV: “White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre Has Made History—And Waves."

Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders (R-AR) Communications Director Alexa Henning said it best: “I know a few women who made history in the White House that didn’t get Vogue profiles … [Sarah Huckabee Sanders] first working mother to serve as press secretary and [Kellyanne Conway] first woman to have run a successful U.S. presidential campaign.”

Kahn began with a claim that Jean-Pierre helping to take down a protester at a June 2019 forum for Democratic presidential candidates was something she’ll be remembered for most, adding Jean-Pierre’s “a realist” who brings “blunt[ness],” “compassion” and “directness” as her “currency at the briefing podium.”

Has Kahn even watched a briefing? Jean-Pierre not only refuses to answer questions, but she fails to show a basic grasp of the English language.

After complaining about Jean-Pierre's "false conjunction fallacy of PPP loans and student loan debt" -- failing to discluse that his employer received as much as $2 million in PPP money --Houck continued to whine that nice things were said about Jean-Pierre:

Following nearly seven mammoth paragraphs about Jean-Pierre’s globe-trotting upbringing, schooling, and mental health struggles stemming from physical abuse, Kahn eventually admitted “Jean-Pierre came to understand politics as a remedy” after initially studying environmentalism and attempting pre-med.


The description of her desk grew even more eye-rolling in nature:“There are memes about eldest sisters, and then there are the women who live them. Jean-Pierre is so organized her pens have their own coral pouch. A thin film keeps her Dell monitor pristine. Visible disorder in her office is limited to drooping flowers on a side table.”

“Best of luck to would-be blackmailers: Jean-Pierre doesn’t drink coffee or alcohol. Psaki calls her viceless. Her snack is roasted seaweed or a morning banana smoothie made al-desko with a gadget called the BlendJet,” Kahn later added.

Take note, Interfax and Russia Today stenographers — this is how it’s done!

Houck wasn't going to mention that his own Doocy-fluffing would also serve as a fine template. Indeed, he slipped in a Doocy shout-out as he continued his meltdown:

Before reporting Jean-Pierre never had to interview for the top job, Kahn made sure to give some love to Jen Psaki, celebrating the fact that “[t]he two were so close that Psaki got them matching leather briefing books, which Jean-Pierre christened ‘Ebony’ and ‘Ivory.’”

Fox’s Peter Doocy didn’t get a nod, but Kahn did allude to “Jean-Pierre...get[ting] a lot of criticism, especially in the beginning” that the press “sniped about Jean-Pierre’s recitation of talking points and expressed genuine exasperation about her perceived stonewalling on basic questions” when, in reality, she “can only say as much as the White House counsel allows her to.”

Again, we ask: Has Kahn actually watched a briefing? Or two?

Houck doesn't understand that normal people don't obsessively hate-watch White House press briefings the way he does for the sole purpose of fluffing Doocy and spewing hate at Jean-Pierre. He concluded with one more whine:

Kahn saved another syringe of fluff for the end about Jean-Pierre’s mother being embraced by President Biden at a state dinner and, afterward, she told her famous daughter that it “was the happiest day of my life.”

Did Kahn borrow that syringe of fluff from Houck on one of the few days when he wasn't using it to gush over Doocy? Houck didn't say.

Houck repeated all this hate and bile in his guest-hosting stint on the Sept. 8 NewsBusters podcast, in which we presume he continued to fail to mention all his Doocy-fluffing.

Houck spent his writeup of the Sept. 21 White House press briefing complaining that Jean-Pierre refused to take a question from his beloved Doocy, but cheered that Doocy's biased Fox News colleagues stepped in to perpetrate their employer's narratives:

The Biden border crisis has reared its ugly head in the last week and brought more misery and ruin to border towns, including Eagle Pass, Texas. White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre offered clownish spin Thursday afternoon that President Biden “has taken...historic action” to “fix this issue” and, not surprisingly, she received not only some hardballs from select reporters, but a searing fact-check afterward on the Fox News Channel by correspondent Bill Melugin.

Melugin’s colleague Peter Doocy tried to wade in on the questioning, but he was suddenly shut down when he tried to push back on Jean-Pierre.


Doocy interjected as Jean-Pierre mumbled along, so the latter suddenly changed her mind about wanting to let Doocy speak and muzzled him (click “expand”):


After two decent question from Dallas Morning News’s Todd Gillman, Doocy’s Fox colleague Edward Lawrence seemed to pick up on what Doocy had tried to ask, which was “how many people coming into this country illegally is enough for President Biden”to truly stop the flow.

We don't recall Houck ever accusing a press secretary for a Republican administration of having "muzzled" a reporter at a briefing. Instead, Houck hyped how Melugin "called out her disrespectful behavior toward Doocy, especially because he had 'an important question.'” Yes, Melugin would consider any question that feeds into his employer's anti-Biden bias to be "important."

Houck was still whining about Jean-Pierre shutting down Doocy even as he acknowledged that she took a question from him the following day:

A day after the ever-inept White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre bizarrely called on Fox's’s Peter Doocy and then almost immediately moved on when he was visibly unamused by her spin on the border crisis, Jean-Pierre only somewhat owned up to her nonsense Friday and let Doocy press her on the latest flare-up in Texas.

“I know — I know your — your dad had some thoughts about our back-and-forth yesterday, so maybe we sh — we should try this again,” Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy sounded off hours earlier.

Peter stuck to his guns, saying he had the “same question as yesterday”: This time, Jean-Pierre answered while Doocy didn’t interject (likely so as not to again result in her pitching a hissy fit). Jean-Pierre played Baghdad Bob, arguing Biden “put forth a comprehensive immigration reform” on his first day in office that’s “desperately needed for this country,” but Congress has refused to acquiesce.


Doocy wrapped with the latest Biden gaffe ignored by the liberal media: “[A]t a fundraiser this week, President Biden told donors about how Charlottesville inspired his campaign. And then, according to the pool, a few minutes later, he told the story again, nearly word for word. What’s up with that?”

Houck would not be treating this exchange the same way if Doocy worked for a "liberal media" outlet and Jean-Pierre worked for a Republican.

As befits the MRC's whining about COVID coming back being discussed in the media over the summer, Houck complained that COVID-related questions were raised at the Sept. 25 briefing, under the headline "We Don't Care":

As the liberal media hawk the latest COVID-19 booster shot and begin their latest fear-mongering campaign ahead of the holidays, the Associated Press’s Will Weissert served as the standard bearer during Monday’s White House press briefing as he opened the Q&A for the ever-inept Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre by fretting that President Biden didn’t get his umpteenth booster in public.

“Why did the White House choose to have the President take his — his latest COVID booster out of public view? Isn’t this a time when, you know, given the promotion of boosters and how important they are that the public might want to see the President have one,”he asked.

Three words (plus two) for Weissert: No one cares (except liberals).

it's a sign of how politicized right-wingers like Houck and the MRC have made COVID that he insists that a disease that has killed millions is not only something anyone should care about but also that those who do care about it must be mocked for doing so.

Flip-flopping on Simon Ateba
ConWebWatch has documented how the MRC loves Simon Ateba, an obscure right-wing reporter for his own Africa-based media outlet, because he's their kind of jerk -- he loves to make a spectacle of himself during White House press briefings under Biden -- and even trying to liken him to CNN reporter Jim Acosta, whom the MRC repeatedly attacked for his attempts to get answers from the Trump White House. This happened again in Tim Graham's July 28 podcast:
The New York Times and The Washington Post really demonstrated a double standard this month on confrontational White House reporters. CNN's screaming Jim Acosta was a heroic screamer in the briefing room, while screaming African reporter Simon Ateba should sit down and shut up.

Managing editor Curtis Houck -- our chronicler and video-tweeter of the White House Briefing -- joins the show to talk about press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and the White House Correspondents Association taking a very hostile pose toward Ateba.

Graham and guest Houck cited examples of non-right-wing media praise for Acosta and compared them against criticism of Ateba. But then they oddly distanced themselves from Ateba. Graham insisted that "he's not a hero to us," while Houck added:

You notice in a lot of these stories, the conservative media worships him and all these -- and they provide examples. NewsBusters is not included because, I mean -- you can go ahead and boo us, you can ratio us, but I think I've been pretty consistent on Twitter and you have as well in your columns that Simon Ateba is a gadfly, he's a carnival barker, like, you don't even know what Today News Africa is. It's like a complete ripoff of New York Post. There's nothing about how or where his site is funded, so there's a lot of questions about, you know, his site, like, what is the point of it? ... But the point is, though, that he did actual reporting in Africa, so that's admirable [crosstalk] But in terms of his U.S. career, I feel very strongly that -- you know, people are saying, well, he's being ignored, he's the only one who's punching back. We'll talk about this more as the show goes on, but that's not the way you go about this.

Houck went on to tout how right-wing reporters like Fox News' Peter Doocy (whose political affiliations he did not acknowledge) are allegedly able to "prosecute" the press secretary "without the snark and the condescension." He then insisted that "we should be consistent, we should be honest about this" -- despite the fact that Houck's criticism of Ateba had never made it into a NewsBusters post until now.

Throughout all this, though, neither Graham nor Houck cited any examples of Acosta's alleged behavior that are directly parallel to anything Ateba has done -- they simply rehashed their old grievances that Acosta asked questions the Trump White House didn't like. They certainly didn't accuse right-wing reporters like Doocy, Steven Nelson and Philip Wegmann of having any sort of political bias they the way they accused Acosta; instead, Graham praised them for their questions being "politely stated."

The complaints continued. Graham and Houck grumbled that some Trump-era reporters that the MRC hated went on to other things -- "everybody screaming like Acosta got a gig," Graham huffed -- but don't expect them to comment negatively (if they comment at all) should Doocy or Wegmann get, say, their own Fox News show as a reward for their anti-Biden reporting.

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