White House press secretary Jen Psaki is handling right-wing media trolls perfectly

Courtesy and an unwillingness to countenance conspiracies are the key to the Biden administration’s strategy for handling far-right media
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki pauses for a moment as she addresses reporters on Thursday, April 15, 2021. Photo: Cameron Smith/White House

On Friday, the White House press briefing included the conspiracy-addled jumble of thoughts from right-wing Newsmax reporter (big question mark if she can be called a reporter) Emerald Robinson. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki does charity work every briefing by allowing right-wing outlets a chance to ask what passes for “questions” about made up right-wing things at virtually every press conference. Newsmax and Fox News and other organizations overselling the word “news” in their name will frequently raise their hand and then attempt to ask what passes for gotcha journalism in the conservative blogosphere.

This means creating false narratives filled with strawman arguments and made up facts, that like the twice impeached former president are always prefaced with phrases like, “Some people are saying,” or “Lots of people are saying,” or some other such construction of a fake audience wondering about things most people are not wondering about. An example would be today, when Psaki called on Robinson, who proceeded to just babble on endlessly from one conspiracy theory to another. But Psaki isn’t a two-bit confidence shill like the previous administration’s merry-go-round clown parade cast of press secretaries, and she isn’t having any of this.

Robinson begins what we will call an English sentence by saying she has loads of questions about lots of stuff (yaaaaaaaaaay?), before saying this, verbatim:

EMERALD ROBINSON: Given the number of former Obama administration officials that are now in this Biden administration, and the president’s relatively light schedule, there’s a growing perception that this is really just the third term of President Obama. What do you say to people who say that?

It’s like watching a pre-school kid trying to retell you a knock knock joke they heard during a EDM concert at an outdoor festival. Psaki matches Robinson’s question by being as serious as she can be when facing down someone starting a bullshit rumor, as we used to call it in high school by asking Robinson, “Who is saying that?” Robinson responds with, “You hear that a lot in the media,” which is interesting as no one around these here parts has heard this thing that Robinson’s media is saying.

Psaki then asks Robinson, “Who in the media?” to which Emerald Robinson, a grown adult person, literally say, “Different people.” It not only reads like a bad high school movie, it plays out like a truly terrible one. Psaki just lets Robinson try to explain herself, offering her a chance to dig her grave of ignorance and petty ambition deeper and deeper.

Robinson, unable to give the names of her imaginary three brain cells who told her stuff, attempts asking a question that implies Vice President Kamala Harris did all of the heavy lifting when Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga came to town. Psaki reminds Robinson that she can’t react to imaginary people who are saying imaginary things, but if Robinson ever runs into these people, she can remind them President Biden met with Prime Minister Suga, had a meal with Prime Minister Suga, held a long press conference with Prime Minister Suga. This also is not an administration where the vice president was picked because of their vapid and immoral bootlicking capabilities.

Robinson has zero at this point and attempts to say that Harris has more responsibilities than any other previous vice president. It’s “unprecedented,” in fact. Psaki smiles and says she would love to see the “data” on that, and would welcome it from Robinson, at which point Psaki might be able to answer that made up question, too.

Robinson, seeing the clock begin to tick down on her relevance, goes for the big conspiracy question: Why did Dr. Anthony Fauci and the National Institutes of Health help fund a virology lab in Wuhan, China, and where does Biden stand on the YouTube conspiracy theory that COVID-19 is a lab leak? (By the way, the conspiracy theory is not that there’s a lab leak being covered up, it’s that this lab leak is being covered up because Fauci and others have purposefully used this pandemic to turn everybody’s children into Chinese Muslim atheists who want to enslave white people. Or something in that lane.)

Psaki reiterated the White House position that they would like a full impartial investigation into the origins of the 2019 novel coronavirus, but until there is real evidence presented, investigated, and analyzed, speculating in the fashion that people like Newsmax’s Emerald Robinson was makes an ass out of you and you. Robinson, having take up almost four minutes of time with her fact-free nonquestions, attempts to continue following up until finally Psaki semi-politely tells her, “I’m sorry, Emerald, I think you’ve had plenty of time today.”

This isn’t the first time Emerald Robinson has attempted to push the conspiracy-soaked half-meanderings of the MAGA audience she gets paid to hold wool in front of, and it likely will not be the last time. But Psaki understands that Robinson is a lightweight and seems content to just let Newsmax spin its fact-free wheels and not give any credence to their deluded world view.