White House press secretary Jen Psaki outrageously blamed U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson for the chaos that ensued on Tuesday during a joint appearance with President Biden that prompted journalists to complain about not being allowed to ask questions.
Psaki was cornered over the embarrassing event during a press briefing on Wednesday and appeared to blame Johnson for allowing reporters to ask questions without notifying the White House first.
CBS News White House correspondent Ed O’Keefe, who had attempted to question Biden about the ongoing migration crisis at the southern border, asked Psaki about the incident, “…what transpired in the Oval Office yesterday when we were all in there trying to hear from the president and the prime minister.”
Psaki replied, “What aspect?”
“Well, the British Prime Minister in the American Oval Office called on British reporters, and then when American reporters tried to call the American President, we were escorted out, to put it that way,” O’Keefe lamented.
“Well, I think in that circumstance, and I think our relationship with the United Kingdom and with Prime Minister Johnson is so strong and abiding. We will be able to move forward beyond this, but he called on individuals from his press corps without alerting us to that intention in advance,” Psaki responded.
(Video Credit: The First TV)
IN THE OVAL OFFICE… @POTUS Biden and British PM @BorisJohnson meet to discuss pandemic, trade and other issues. Johnson took 3 questions. White House aides shouted down U.S. attempts to ask questions. I asked Biden about southern border and we couldn’t decipher what he said. pic.twitter.com/A86kgdfsuc
— Ed O'Keefe (@edokeefe) September 21, 2021
American journalists bitterly complained about their silencing by the Biden administration after White House aides, known as “wranglers,” shouted at them while they tried to ask questions. Then they were escorted out of the room while two British reporters, Harry Cole of the Sun newspaper and Beth Rigby of Sky News, asked Johnson questions.
“That’s absurd,” one reporter was overheard complaining, according to the New York Post. “Two British reporters get questions and we don’t get anything.”
A number of U.S. journalists attempted to ask Biden questions despite being shouted down by aides. The White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA) later filed a formal complaint with Psaki over the incident.
CBS News Radio’s White House correspondent Steven Portnoy, who is president of the WHCA, asked Psaki on Wednesday to “shed a little bit more light” on the chaotic and un-American incident.
“Did the President feel he was upstaged by the British prime minister yesterday?” Portnoy asked her.
“I think the President has not spent a moment worrying about it,” Psaki tersely answered.
IN THE PRESIDENT'S OVAL OFFICE:
Boris Johnson recognized two British reporters for questions.
Joe Biden then signaled it was time for the press to leave, without taking any questions from his own press corps.
— Steven Portnoy (@stevenportnoy) September 21, 2021
Portnoy was not deterred by Psaki’s rudeness in the least and asked when reporters would be able to ask the President “substantive, pointed questions” about issues that include a possible government shutdown and the collapse of bipartisan talks on police reform.
“I would note that he answered questions 135 times leading up to September; three times last week. And he’ll keep looking for forums to answer the questions from all of you — something that he sees as vitally important to our democracy,” Psaki dismissively replied.
“But in this month of September, most of the occasions we’ve had have been fleeting,” Portnoy asserted. “In fact, there are some occasions where he’s only taken one question and walked away, and most of those occasions have occurred outside of this building. So, when can we expect to have an opportunity to actually ask the president questions in a formal setting?”
“I’m not trying to diminish your ask for a formal press conference — which certainly, I’m sure, we will have another one — but I will convey to you that as it relates to providing information to the public, elevating the importance of the freedom of press to our democracy, that I don’t know that the format, whether it is multiple shorter Q&As or a longer, formal press conference is at the top of the list of the American public’s concern,” she stated, seemingly blaming the American people for Biden not answering questions.
“We intend to raise the matters of concern to the public at those press conferences,” Portnoy informed Psaki.
“As you have during 140 times you’ve asked the President questions,” she snapped back.
As the issue of Biden refusing to take questions from journalists explodes, people are not impressed with Psaki’s denigrating attempts to shift blame over it:
Trump fought so the American media could be in the room during his summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.
Biden forced the American media out of the room during his meeting with the UK’s Boris Johnson.
— Ronna McDaniel (@GOPChairwoman) September 22, 2021
A chaotic scene in the Oval Office today as Boris Johnson unexpectedly took questions from British reporters, and White House aides shouted over American reporters as we tried to ask Biden questions https://t.co/2wus2ilX0F
— Andrew Restuccia (@AndrewRestuccia) September 21, 2021
Real leaders are expected to take questions from a free press.
— Bill Dumais (@BillD202) September 22, 2021
@PressSec Norms, Jen, the norms!
It is normal for the two heads of states to take questions from press from their respective countries… like has been done for decades.
Of course, the leaders aren’t usually cowards.
— BayAreaFrau (@bayareahausfrau) September 22, 2021
Because Psaki and Rice are in charge and not Biden.
— J (@ARaised_Eyebrow) September 22, 2021
Lightly threatening the relationship America has with the UK is a worse response to this than every other response I imagined. https://t.co/xL49BteQq2
— Kate Hyde (@KateHydeNY) September 22, 2021
They got caught with their pants down 😂 panic mode pic.twitter.com/yboLn6ShHT
— Albert (@MrPeabody03) September 22, 2021
Sorry Jen, it’s standard procedure, or is it Joe’s just not up to it?
— chas (@chas9198) September 22, 2021
“We were not able to plant questions”
— Mr. Bob Dobalina (@Bob_Dobalina91) September 22, 2021
Biden's staff shut everything down during the press conference right as Boris Johnson was in mid sentence. They must have seen Biden falling asleep again and pulled the plug.
— Susan St. James (@SusanStJames3_) September 22, 2021
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