A reporter tried to push the Republican lie that Rep. Maxine Waters was inciting violence, but Press Secretary Jen Psaki shot it down.
Jen Psaki isn’t putting up with the White House press pool pushing the false Republican line about Rep. Maxine Waters’s comments. pic.twitter.com/uJg2CUCZ73
— Sarah Reese Jones (@PoliticusSarah) April 20, 2021
Psaki was asked, “One more question about the comments. The House Minority Leader Kevin Mccarthy is accusing her of inciting violence, and you had the judge yesterday saying she was being disrespectful of the rule of law. I want to be very clear. Does the White House condone the congresswoman’s comments?”
The Press Secretary answered, “First I would say that the congresswoman clarified her own comments. What I can do is speak for the president’s view which is it is important to provide a space and opportunity for peaceful protest. Protesting should be peaceful. That is something he has consistently advocated for.”
The follow-up, “She was calling on protesters she has called on protests to get more confrontational.”
Psaki shut it down, “And she had additional comments since then, right? Which provided additional clarification.”
The exchange continued, “Does the White House believe those kinds of comments are helpful in the middle of this trial which everybody knows can lead to violence and unrest?”
Psaki put it to bed, “Again I can speak to what the president’s point of view is which is it is important to provide an opportunity for peaceful protests. That is what he has continued to advocate for, what he has consistently advocated for. I would say when somebody provides clarification for their comment that’s an important context to include in anybody’s reporting.”
These sorts of questions are the byproduct of reporters acting like stenographers for the Republican Party, and not questioning the validity of what they are being told. The questions were based on the Republican premise that when Waters told protesters to get more confrontational, she meant violent.
Jen Psaki is an effective press secretary because she cuts through the pretext and bias in questions while demanding more of the reporters in the room than just getting White House reaction to Republican talking points.
The Press Secretary was correct. If someone provides follow-up clarification, that should be included in the reporting. Doing otherwise is just a lazy attempt to generate a headline.
The drama creation that worked under Trump is being shut down by Biden, and reporters are going to have to step up their game and ask more fact-based questions.
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Mr. Easley is the founder/managing editor, who is White House Press Pool, and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association