A Newsmax reporter tried Friday to get White House press secretary Jen Psaki to respond to something negative that “people are saying” about President Joe Biden — but Psaki made short work of the journalist.
Newsmax’s Emerald Robinson said that “many” unnamed “people” are concerned about the large number of individuals from the Obama administration being named to posts in the Biden administration. “People are saying” was a favorite phrase of former President Donald Trump, who usually employed it when his point wasn’t backed by facts.
“Given the number of former Obama administration officials that are now in this Biden administration and the president’s relatively light schedule, there’s a growing perception that this is really just the third term of President Obama,” Robinson said. “What do you say to people who say that?”
Psaki: “Who’s saying that?”
“You’ve heard that a lot in the media,” Robinson replied, apparently referring to her own right-wing employer.
“Who in the media?” Psaki pressed.
“Different people,” Robinson responded defensively.
“Like?” Psaki pushed again, smiling.
Robinson suddenly segued into Vice President Kamala Harris greeting visiting Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga last month in a point that didn’t seem connected to her initial question. She said “people find that odd” that Harris greeted Suga. Robinson asked again: “So, I just want to get your reaction to people who question that.”
Psaki, barely smiling again: “Well, it’s hard to react when I don’t know what people you’re talking about.”
The press secretary pointed out that Biden had a full meeting, conducted a full news conference and shared a meal with Suga, and that Harris has been very involved in meeting with world leaders.
Robinson’s point about Harris, not Biden, greeting Suga, appeared to be part of Republican lawmakers’ repeated talking point that the president isn’t really in charge — apparently not including making administration appointments, vaccine distribution, planning a major infrastructure program and tax hikes, and reversing several of Trump’s executive orders.
Robinson’s conjecture that Biden’s schedule is “lighter than usual” also feeds into that GOP narrative. As for Trump’s schedule, he visited a Trump Organization property on 428 days while he was in office; that’s a visit every 3.4 days, according to The Washington Post.
Robinson also raised the conspiracy theory that China cooked up COVID-19 in a lab.
After pointing out that the Biden administration has pushed for a thorough, independent investigation of the origins of the virus, Psaki finally cut off Robinson. “We are going to have to go on. I‘m sorry, Emerald, I think you have had plenty of time today.”
Check out Psaki’s “people say” smackdown in the clip up top and her response to the origins of COVID-19 here: