Jen Psaki, the new White House press secretary, isn’t as well-known as Donald Trump’s four press secretaries, one of whom, Stephanie Grisham, hardly gave any press conferences. She’s a tad dull, which means she’s professional, courteous to journalists, and — for the most part, but not always — honest about what’s going on in the Joe Biden White House. She does, however, go viral every now and then, and it normally includes her shouting down conservative reporter Peter Doocy.
Doocy is the son of Steve Doocy, a regular on Fox & Friends, and the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. He, too, is employed by Fox News, but his role involves dragging himself to the White House and pelting Psaki with right-wing talking points. They formed a frenemy relationship almost as soon as she started the job, and he tried to push her on her newly awakened concern about how COVID-19 got started on Monday.
Three researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Urology in China were hospitalized with COVID-like symptoms in November, shortly before the virus spread worldwide, according to a new Wall Street Journal report. Doocy pressed Psaki about Biden pushing for more intel. Psaki responded that they were pushing for an “expert-driven evaluation of the pandemic’s origins that is free from interference or politicization.”
But then Doocy posed the question he really wanted to ask, one that attempted to make Biden seem inept. “With 589,920 dead Americans, at what point does President Joe Biden say, ‘We don’t want to wait for the W.H.O., we don’t know what they are doing, this needs to be an American-led effort’?”
When Psaki began to tell him that they first need “access to the underlying data and information to have that investigation,” he interrupted her, asking why he can’t just call Chinese president XI Jinping, she shut him down completely.
“I think you are misunderstanding how this process works,” she told Doocy. “An international investigation led by the world health organization is something we have been pressing for several months in coronation with a range of partners around the world, we need that data and information from the Chinese government. What we can’t do, and what I would caution anyone doing, is leading ahead of an actual international process. We don’t have enough data and information to jump to a conclusion.”
This wasn’t a snippy or disrespectful exchange like those between Trump secretaries Sean Spicer, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and Kayleigh McEnany, who went viral for being snippy or rude to journalists who asked often unflattering questions. Psaki was calm and composed, but straightforward, in an effort to appease someone who was trying to instill fear and impatience in an already jittery American public.
As a result, social media, which typically ignores Psaki, chose to congratulate her on something she undoubtedly does much too often: dealing with people like Peter Doocy.
Others saw through Doocy’s methodology, which included referencing the number of fatalities, as a blatant effort to blame hundreds of thousands of American deaths on Biden, rather than the president who presided over the overwhelming majority of them and did nothing to prevent them.