White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki went before reporters Thursday for her penultimate press briefing and she made it one to remember as she falsely claimed it’s “a conspiracy theory” taxpayer dollars are funding free crack pipes despite intrepid reporting from the Washington Free Beacon that government-funded “safe smoking kits” contain crack pipes.
And on more conventional topics, Psaki squared off with a number of journalists over the administration being caught flat-footed amid a nationwide baby formula shortage and an increasing hostility by President Biden and the White House toward the 70-million-plus non-Democrats as dangerous, “ultra-MAGA” fanatics.
Fox’s Jacqui Heinrich dropped the hammer when she noted that, back on February 10, Psaki denounced past Free Beacon reporting (via former MRCTV intern Patrick Hauf) and, as per Heinrich’s summation, “no money from a 30 million dollar harm reduction program would fund distribution of crack pipes in safe smoking kits.”
At the time, Hauf said “[t]he Biden administration is set to fund the distribution of crack pipes to drug addicts as part of its plan to advance ‘racial equity.’”
But with Psaki in denial and fact-checkers siding with the administration by citing press releases as fact, Hauf decided to visit such “harm reduction facilities” and found that, yes, “[c]rack pipes are distributed in safe-smoking kits up and down the East Coast.”
Heinrich noted he went to “five cities and all of those facilities had crack pipes in their kits. HHS would not say which programs had applied for funding and the recipient list is not out yet.”
“So, I’m just wondering if the White House can say about if any taxpayer dollars paid for these crack pipes,” she asked.
After Psaki insisted “[n]o federal funding has gone to it,” Heinrich pressed on whether there’s “any oversight to ensure” that isn’t the case.
Not only did Psaki deny it, she argued the Free Beacon was engaging in “a bit of a conspiracy theory that’s been spread out there” and “not accurate.” Instead, the program has assisted “important drug treatment programs for people who have been suffering from what we have seen as an exit epidemic across the country.”
Before that, Heinrich brought up the baby formula shortage and how, based on the timeline leading to a February recall of formula from an Abbott plant in Michigan, “[i]t does seem like we should’ve seen this coming.”
She was proceeded in raising those concerns by reporters such as CBS’s Ed O’Keefe, whose basic questions about when did the President first learn of the shortage and whether the Defense Production Act should be invoked led Psaki to illustrate how it’s evidence the White House has yet to fully wrap their arms around the problem (click “expand”):
O’KEEFE: On the formula shortage, just two quick ones. You said that this has been something that’s been in the works for several months, mostly through the FDA. When was the first time the President was briefed on the shortage?
PSAKI: I’m not going to get into internal briefings, he’s been made aware of it through the process. And there’s been steps —
O’KEEFE: [Inaudible] this week?
PSAKI: It would have been, yes.
O’KEEFE: Has there been any consideration of using the Defense Production Act? Cause some —
PSAKI: There are a range — there are a range of options, including that, under consideration, Ed, but I would note the issue here is that a manufacturer was taken off line because they did not produce a safe baby formula. So, what we are doing here at this point in time is working with other manufacturers who can produce safe baby formulas. And we’ve had success in increasing our productivity, their productivity, over the last four weeks, and we’re continuing to work on that.
O’KEEFE: He would have known about this before this week? It wasn’t like this suddenly popped up?
PSAKI: This has been something the administration has been working on for sometime now.
Later on, The Washington Post’s Ashley Parker expressed similar exasperation this has happened, noting that the White House’s so-called actions “seem like things that could have been announced…earlier and any woman following this on any moms-list or whatever has known of rumblings of this crisis since…February.”
On the “Ultra-MAGA” rhetoric, Heinrich called out Biden’s flip-flop from his 2020 campaign messaging and questioned whether it’s “the best strategy…to win people over” since “Trump got 74 million votes” in 2020 (click “expand”):
HEINRICH: He referred to — to former President Trump as the Ultra-MAGA King. He’s been decrying Ultra-MAGA Republicans and saying he’s going to be doing it more. But Hillary Clinton expressed some regret, not too long ago, for referring to Trump voters as deplorables who couldn’t be redeemed. And considering that Trump got 74 million votes in the last election, I’m just wondering if this is the best strategy for Biden to win people over — win over support ahead of the midterms, especially given his inaugural theme being America United?
PSAKI: Well, I would say that the President is not afraid to call out what he sees as extreme positions that are out of line with where the American people stand and whether that is supporting a tax plan that will raise taxes on 75 million Americans making less than $100,000 a year or whether it is supporting efforts to overturn Roe v. Wade, something that two thirds of the American people in a Fox News poll, may I add, supported. And there are countless examples from there. The President believes that there is still work that we can do together. The bipartisan Innovation Act is a good example of that. But, again, he is not going to stand back and stand aside while people are pushing for extreme positions that are not in the interest or supported by the vast majority of the American people.
HEINRICH: And on inflation, today, Ro Khana, just sort of feeding into his comments about last night — from last night about inflation. The President was talking about the economy, when he was referring to ultra-MAGA and Ro Khanna said today that blaming Putin may not be effective. He said we need to say inflation is a real threat, it’s an emergency. So, it seems that the President has been ratcheting up this rhetoric, you know, blaming Republicans, blaming Putin, we’ve heard all the reasons why the pandemic is a factor. But, Ro Khanna is asking, you know, this White House to call inflation in emergency and to call up the National Guard to help with supply chains. Are those things that you’d consider — this White House would consider?
PSAKI: Jacqui, I don’t think anyone doesn’t think that inflation is an issue. The President has said that countless times.
PSAKI: The question is — it doesn’t matter what you call it. The President just gave a speech on it yesterday. The issue — the question is: what is your plan to address this? He laid out a multi part plan yesterday, he has taken a range of steps, including steps even announced this week to lower the price of high-speed internet for tens of millions of Americans, to give farmers the tools and resources they need to boost production, to lower the deficit, something that happened on his watch last year, which will help, to relieve one million barrels of oil from the strategic petroleum reserve, to fix the family glitch. What is the plan on the other side? We all recognize it’s a problem. But if you open the cupboard door, there’s nothing there and that’s the issue.
At the other end of the spectrum, Politico’s Chris Cadelago offered softballs about the same topic, feigning concern about when the “Ultra-MAGA…fever will break in Washington” and Republicans will “come around” toward supporting more of his agenda.
Of course Psaki agreed, stating “that’s certainly his hope” and, in the meantime, he’ll continue to insist the parties “work together to get things done” while also lambasting them as divisive and extreme.
To see the relevant transcript from May 12’s briefing (including an appearance from a Nick News reporter and lapdog Josh Lederman of NBC asking about Biden’s “Ultra-MAGA” talk), click here.