Inside the White House Briefing Room, 2022 began with more mountain-sized word salads and dodges from Jen Psaki before shifting in May to former MoveOn.org spokeswoman and former MSNBC contributor Karine Jean-Pierre, who made waves for her stunning ineptitude and using her binder as a life raft.
Dozens of NewsBusters blogs were dedicated to the topic, so it was a challenge to narrow down to 12-ish examples, but we did our best to sift through the many Doocy Times and Jacqui Times and moments from other reporters across the spectrum.
Below, you’ll find our list, presented in chronological order with a link to its original NewsBusters blog (plus a bonus for worst day of softballs). Go here to see the top Doocy moments from 2021 and here for the top tussles of the Psaki era.
Ahead of Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, Fox’s Jacqui Heinrich put on a clinic as she exposed Psaki and National Security Advisers Jake Sullivan over the pointless nature of threatening severe sanctions against Russia (instead of leveling them), waiting too long to arm Ukrainians, and how this marked yet another country where the U.S. asked Americans to flee.
At one point, Heinrich wondered to Psaki whether “[y]ou’re waiting for people to die before implementing” sanctions.
Fox Business Network’s Edward Lawrence has become a frequent presence over the last two years in pressing the White House, so it was no surprise on this way when he battled Psaki over the fact that, as of then, gas prices have gone up every month since Biden took office and how they could still demand people move to pricy electric vehicles.
As for Doocy, he fought with Psaki over their hapless attempt to brand the gas price spike as the #PutinPriceHike after having previous blamed the increase on the supply chain and life restarting after the pandemic.
As we wrote in our blog on the top moments of Psaki’s tenure, “Doocy put Psaki in the position of defending this newfound world of allowing biological men to compete in women’s sports as a way of ‘protect[ing] the dignity and identity of all Americans’” and insisting that those opposing the teaching of sex to young children are “propagating misinformed, hateful policies.”
One of 2022’s Biden crises featured a dangerous and seemingly sudden shortage of baby formula and, thankfully, Doocy and the great Philip Wegmann of Real Clear Politics weren’t alone as colleagues from liberal outlets were rightfully outraged when Jean-Pierre fumbled her way through answers of nothingness.
Doocy had his questions about “who…in the West Wing…decided after six or eight weeks that this baby formula shortage was finally something that somebody should tell the President about” with Wegmann asking more broadly “how serious does an issue have to be before” Biden’s informed, but they had help from the likes of CBS’s Ed O’Keefe and Kathryn Watson and NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell.
The even-keeled O’Keefe was incensed, demanding she explain why it took until June to have Biden invoke the Defense Production Act months after murmurs percolated supply could be an issue.
Along with Doocy, O’Donnell, and CNN’s MJ Lee, O’Keefe wasn’t done as he came back the next day for another round hammering Jean-Pierre for a timeline of who knew what and when and how such ineptitude could be further exposed in a future crisis.
Doocy came locked and loaded for this tussle with the Fox News White House correspondent calling out the fact that Biden had falsely been claiming “inflation is worse everywhere but here.” When Jean-Pierre tried to defend the President, Doocy hit back with reality: “U.S. has worse inflation than Germany, France, Japan, Canada, India, Italy, Saudi Arabia.”
Later in the exchange, Doocy wondered why Biden was seeking more foreign oil when he could request “oil companies…drill more here in the U.S.”
Months after protests outside the homes of Supreme Court justices nearly resulted in the assassination of Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Doocy battled Jean-Pierre over leftists thugs harassing Kavanaugh while he was out to eat in Washington D.C.
Doocy asked her whether Biden thinks such behavior is “appropriate,” but Jean-Pierre refused and even endorsed it so long as it’s “peaceful” because “this is what a democracy is.”
By July, it became clear to many that the American Rescue Plan’s nearly $2 trillion price tag contributed to inflation and so Doocy arrived ready to grill Jean-Pierre. When she took his bait by insisting Biden “turned the economy back on” and create “a stronger labor market,” Doocy fired a bullet: “If things are going so great, though, then why is it that White House officials are trying to redefine recession?”
Doocy peppered her with examples when she argued the U.S. wasn’t in a recession, even citing comments from National Economic Council director Brian Deese back in 2008. On this issue, even CNN’s Kaitlan Collins and The Washington Post’s Tyler Page weren’t buying the spin.
Jean-Pierre frequently brought in cabinet secretaries and other White House officials to serve as her shield and, in this instance, Doocy threw down with National Security Council spokesman John Kirby over the presence of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan as exhibited by the drone strike that killed infamous al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.
At one point, Doocy told him that “[y]ou guys gave a whole country to a bunch of people that are on the FBI Most Wanted list” and was proof “[t]he Taliban was harboring the world’s number one terrorist” seeing as how, prior to the strike, he was able to “sit on a balcony” in a ritzy part of Kabul.
One of Biden’s major midterms ploys was an executive order that, if upheld next year by the Supreme Court, would forgive millions in student loans for Americans making under $125,000 and, as such, the move drew widespread consternation with the Briefing Room being no exception.
Heinrich astutely called the administration out for using a law called the Heroes Act to justify the loan forgiveness under the guise of COVID-19 pandemic when they’re arguing Title 42 should be axed at the border because the pandemic is over.
CBS’s Christina Ruffini also had a hardball: “[I]f you don’t know how much it’s going to cost, how can you guarantee that it’s going to be paid for, even if you’re defining ‘paid for’ in a way that some of us have questions about?”
The New York Times’s Michael Shear wasn’t sold either as, on this issue, the White House seemed to have abandoned a major talking point from other initiatives they knew were “fully pad for” when this lacked a final price tag.
Briefing observers waited months for someone to ask Jean-Pierre about her election denialism, so it fell to Doocy to pull the trigger and he made it count. Doocy started by asking whether it’s important to say neither 2020 nor 2016 was stolen.
Jean-Pierre claimed she wouldn’t “go back to where we were…in 2016,” so Doocy whipped out her tweets claiming Donald Trump stole the 2016 election and Georgia Republican Brian Kemp stole the 2018 gubernatorial election. Of course, she called the premise “ridiculous” because her claims were more esoteric and she didn’t storm the Capitol like on January 6, 2021.
Sometimes, the simplest questions draw the fieriest exchanges and that proved the case here with Doocy wanting Jean-Pierre to answer if Biden “favor[s] any limits on abortion.” Jean-Pierre insisted the regime’s issue was with Senator Lindsey Graham’s abortion legislation that she deemed a “national ban” even though, as Doocy explained, was actually for a 15-week ban.
She added she wouldn’t “get into specifics,” but Doocy exploded: “Why not get into specifics? The Republicans are saying we don’t want abortion after 15 weeks. Why can’t you say how many weeks the President thinks the limit is?”
When she tried to wiggle her way out, filibuster, and then call on another reporter, the fight was on as Doocy continued to berate her for “not answer[ing] my question, Karine.”
Speaking of simple questions, Jean-Pierre was unmoved by this missive from Doocy after the U.S. gave away convicted arms dealer Viktor Bout to Russia in order to rescue WNBA player Brittney Griner: “In this prisoner swap, why did Russia get such a better deal?”
Later in the exchange, Doocy highlighted Biden’s inconsistencies in negotiations for Griner versus Marine Paul Whelan, who’s also been jailed in Russia.
And, on Twitter, he unsuccessfully tried to have her explain “who is” saying she couldn’t “talk about communications between the Biden campaign and Twitter” in light of the Twitter Files revealing a hand-in-glove relationship between the two in 2020.
In this bonus pick, we made sure to include the worst moment as Jean-Pierre’s first day on the job featured eye-rolling platitudes and welcomes, including Associated Press reporter Zeke Miller wondering whether she’d put “truth, honesty, and transparency” at the center of briefings. Later, TheGrio’s April Ryan gushed she was “making history on so many levels” with many people being “so proud of you.”