Press Secretary Jen Psaki clashed with CNN+ host Chris Wallace on Wednesday night when the veteran news anchor grilled the White House official over President Joe Biden’s lack of sit-down press interviews.
Psaki’s nearly half hour-long interview with Wallace was largely uncontentious, especially when compared to her exchanges with Wallace’s ex-colleagues at his former network, Fox News.
The press secretary opened up about some of her most notable — and controversial — moments in the briefing room, and discussed her headline-making tears over Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill she shed during a recent podcast interview.
Her boss, however, has had far fewer drawn-out media appearances. Though Biden often stops to answer reporters’ shouted questions while traveling to and from events, the president has only had one sit-down interview this year so far.
He’s also participated in fewer press conferences during his first year in office, holding just nine joint or solo such events. Donald Trump held 21 and Barack Obama 27 during their first years, according to The American Presidency Project.
‘Why has President Biden been so sheltered from the press?’ Wallace asked Psaki on Wednesday.
Psaki challenged, ‘In what way?’
‘He just did a press conference several weeks ago. He takes questions from the press nearly every day,’ she defended.
Wallace pointed out that Biden has sat down for 28 reporter interviews during the same time span Trump did 95 and Obama even more at 162, but Psaki countered he was ‘leaving out’ the times he’s stopped for impromptu chats with White House reporters.
‘Nearly every day at the White House, he takes questions from the White House press corps,’ she said.
Wallace began, ‘Yeah but Jen –‘
‘Two questions three questions eight questions,’ Psaki continued saying over the CNN+ host. ‘So why is that different?’
Wallace, who spent more than a decade early in his career as a White House correspondent, challenged: ‘I’ll tell you exactly why that’s different, because when you’re standing there, you can take a question. You can answer it, you can slough it off and you can move on.’
‘And oftentimes, he gives a partial answer and walks away. It in no way compares to sitting down with a reporter for 20 minutes, 30 minutes, and having — you can’t move away, you can duck it, you’ve got to sit there and answer the question and the follow up. It’s not the same thing,’ he finished.
Psaki asked him to ‘agree to disagree.’
Elsewhere in the interview, she reflected on a podcast interview released earlier this week during which the senior Biden official was brought to tears by the wave of anti-LGBTQI+ youth legislation being passed in Republican-led states.
The Sunshine State recently passed a new Parental Rights In Education law banning public school staff and teachers from discussing sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade, and in a matter that is ‘developmentally appropriate’ for all other ages.
Psaki said Tuesday that the bill could stop children with LGBTQI parents from talking about their ‘loving’ family lives.
‘I’m going to get emotional about this issue — because it’s horrible,’ she said, beginning to cry.
‘But it’s like kids who are bullied and all these leaders are taking steps to hurt them and hurt their lives and hurt their families. And you look at some of these laws in these states and it’s going after parents who are in loving relationships who have kids. It’s completely outrageous.’
She excused it as a moment of issue-driven ‘passion’ during her interview with CNN+ on Wednesday, reaffirming her stance that Florida’s law is ‘morally wrong.’
‘I will say that many of us who have served as long as I have in public service…we’re passionate about issues, we’re passionate about what we think is right,’ Psaki explained.
‘I personally think that these laws in states like Florida are morally wrong and that they are targeting kids and they’re targeting families, and we know statistically that transgender kids are bullied. We know that they have a tough time already.’
The issue ‘hit me in my heart as a parent,’ Psaki said, ‘And somebody who wants all kids to be treated equally and be given kind of a loving chance by society.’
‘Yes I had a reaction, because I’m a human being, like we all are.’
This is an excerpt from Daily Mail.
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