White House press secretary Jen Psaki was grilled Monday on whether tackling crime is a priority of the Biden administration, following surging violence in major US cities and critics calling President Joe Biden "soft on crime."
At the White House press briefing, Psaki was asked about controversial remarks she had made last week on a recent Pod Save America taping where she lambasted a Fox News chyron that was blasting the Biden administration for embracing progressive policies that release criminals who re-offend back onto the street.
Psaki responded to reporters Monday by calling the Fox News coverage "baseless" characterization of Biden's "serious" stance on crime.
"What I was speaking to was a chyron on Fox News, since you raised it, which suggested this administration is soft on crime with no basis," Psaki answered.
Psaki stressed Biden's support for community policing programs and budgetary efforts to increase federal funding for local law enforcement agencies.
A journalist noted during the press conference that Biden's job approval ratings have tanked on the topic, asking if the poll numbers indicate that Americans feel that Democrat leaders are "out of touch" when it comes to safety.
The press secretary pounced on the chance to take aim at former President Donald Trump's record before saying the matter should not be "a political football."
"I think we all agree or should agree that violent crime is a serious problem. We actually saw a record jump in murders in 2020, under the former president..." Psaki said. "Our view is rather than turn this into a political football…we need to be focused...on reducing crime and keeping our communities safe."
During the Pod Save America interview, Psaki pushed back on jabs from Fox News host Jeanine Pirro over the White House welcoming "soft-on-crime" approaches.
"There's an alternate universe on some coverage...What's scary about it is a lot of people watch that. They think that the president isn't doing anything to address people's safety in New York and that couldn't be further from the truth," Psaki said in a caustic tone, appearing to mock Americans and right-wing pundits concerned about the "consequences" of Democrat policies in local communities.
Fox News reporter Jacqui Hendrich gave Psaki an opportunity to clarify what she meant during the viral segment. Psaki maintained that the video clip was taken out of context and that she was just rebutting accusations against the White House.
Psaki continued to spar with the conservative cable news network, doubling down on her claim that such criticism from Fox News has "no basis" in reality.
"In the American Rescue Plan, there was additional funding to support local cops programs, something that every single Republican voted against. I said in that interview that I know they don't like it when we call that out. I'm going to keep calling that out because that's a fact," Psaki told Hendrich.
Psaki repeated the claim that the GOP voted to withhold funding from the police; however, the Washington Post's fact-checking team had debunked the assertion in July 2021, rating it "mostly false" with "three pinnochios," as the mainstream media outlet found "significant factual error and/or obvious contradictions." The COPS program had a multi-million dollar set-aside in the American Rescue Plan.
"The president has been a long-time advocate of addressing crime. He's never been for defunding the police. Our Department of Justice has put in place support for strike forces. And the other fact that is never talked about in these Fox packages is the fact that gun crime is a major driver of crime across the country," Psaki said.
Psaki also mentioned that Biden is meeting with New York City's newly-elected Mayor Eric Adams, following the fatal shootings of two New York Police Department officers who were killed by an armed career criminal in Harlem. Adams, a Democrat, had first blamed "gun violence" for the rookie cop's slaying.
Psaki has faced backlash from former members of the Trump administration and House Republicans over her apparent mockery of growing crime concerns.
"A truly appalling video...Perhaps she should start by asking the NYPD heroes who lined 5th Avenue to honor their slain comrade," former Trump White House advisor Stephen Miller wrote on Twitter, joining others noting the homicides.
Boston radio host and columnist Grace Curely also spotlighted the tragic police death: "Jen should watch Dominique Luzuriaga's eulogy for her husband NYPD Officer Jason Rivera. Might help her understand this subject a bit more."
"The system continues to fail us. We are not safe anymore. Not even the members of the service," Luzuriaga said at Friday's funeral service for the slain cop. "I know you were tired of these laws, especially the ones from the new DA."
The nation's largest police union, the National Fraternal Order of Police, also took to social media to call out the White House press secretary for "belittling" concerned Americans and "laughing off" worries about the rising crime rate.
"I think it's wrong – very wrong – for Ms. Psaki to suggest that violent crime in our country is of no concern or to just laugh it off," the law enforcement advocacy organization's President Patrick Yoes said in a Monday press statement.
"She may feel safe in the White House, one of the most protected buildings in the United States, but not everyone feels safe in their workplace. The world we find ourselves in is dangerous and increasingly more so. Tens of thousands of people have been the victims of crime this month alone and some of them never made it back home," Yoes said in the National Fraternal Order of Police press release.
Join and support independent free thinkers!
We’re independent and can’t be cancelled. The establishment media is increasingly dedicated to divisive cancel culture, corporate wokeism, and political correctness, all while covering up corruption from the corridors of power. The need for fact-based journalism and thoughtful analysis has never been greater. When you support The Post Millennial, you support freedom of the press at a time when it's under direct attack. Join the ranks of independent, free thinkers by supporting us today for as little as $1.
Remind me next month