There really needs to be more stringent criteria for who is granted press credentials in the White House Briefing Room. Without some standard for experience and professionalism you wind up making Press Secretary Jen Psaki waste time with questions that are nothing more than pre-scripted, fact-averse hit pieces.
Friday morning provided a perfect example of this “gotcha-ism” when Psaki was confronted by the new White House correspondent for Newsmax, Emerald Robinson. She recently joined Newsmax after her stint at One America News Network (OANN). So her journalism pedigree is pitifully lacking in journalistic integrity. Robinson sought to corner Psaki with a loaded question that totally warped reality:
“The U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Linda Thomas-Greenfield, talking on Wednesday said that essentially white supremacy is woven into our founding documents and principles. The statement is getting widely criticized as essentially parroting Chinese Communist Party talking point. So is the President going to remove her from her position as the representative before that body?”
The first thing you might notice is that Robinson is painfully ignorant about American history and the nation's founding documents. Most Americans know that the this country's originating “principles” permitted slavery and that the Constitution counted African slaves as three-fifths of person. There was also a little thing called the “Civil War” that addressed racial issues in America. And even today's headlines are filled with examples of the systemic racism that persists.
In addition to those glaring omissions, Robinson also revealed her rookie reporting skills by trying to give her question more credibility by asserting that the Ambassador's comments were “widely criticized.” By whom? Her bosses at Newsmax? The Republicans she shills for? Capitol insurrections out on bail?
What's more, it is patently absurd to associate the remarks by Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield with the Chinese Communist Party. Just because a foreign adversary says something similar to an American diplomat doesn't mean it isn't true. If a Chinese diplomat criticized America's early racial bigotry, they would have been stating something that is unarguably true. In fact, it would still be true if they said it today. Psaki had a quick retort that should have put the matter to rest:
“Is POTUS going to remove an African-American woman with decades of experience in the foreign service who's widely respected around the world from her position as Ambassador to the U.N.? He's not. He is proud to have her in that position. She is not only qualified, he believes she is exactly the right person in that role in this moment in time.
“I have not seen her comments. I will say that there is no question that there has been a history of institutional racism in this country, and that doesn't require the U.N. Ambassador to confirm that.”
Unfortunately, Robinson wasn't satisfied and persisted with her ludicrous line of questions to ask “does the President think our founding documents are racist?” Psaki declined to dignify the inquiry further, saying simply that “most people recognize the history of systemic racism in our country.” And if Robinson needs any additional evidence of American racism, all she has to do is watch her network and note the rampant racism that emanates from its programs every hour of every day.
Early on the Biden administration expressed its intent to manage press relations in a manner that would be starkly different from the hostile work environment fostered by Donald Trump. There would be no more barking at reporters and insulting them as “enemies of the people.” Biden “promised not to allow outlets to use the briefings to spread baseless conspiracies,” and vowed that “Organizations or individuals who traffic in conspiracy theories, propaganda and lies to spread disinformation will not be tolerated.”
It's time to make good on those promises. There is no way that Newsmax should be entitled to a White House press pass. They don't conduct responsible, honest journalism. And they don't aspire to professional standards of ethics. They are unabashed purveyors of propaganda who seek only to malign their ideological foes and advance the ultra-rightists for whom they work. And by the way, all of that applies equally as well to Fox News.
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