Doocy, Wegmann, Gutierrez Grill Inept KJP Over Biden’s Inaction on Pro-Hamas Students

Before being shamed into speaking on-camera Thursday to the American people about the dangerous anti-Semitic hooligans who’ve thrown college campus into chaos, Wednesday’s White House press briefing was dominated by numerous reporters — including Fox’s Peter Doocy, Real Clear Politics’s Philip Wegmann, and even NBC’s Gabe Gutierrez — pressing the ever-inept Karine Jean-Pierre on why Biden hasn’t been more public in denouncing these scenes.

The initial questions were rather pedestrian. After AP’s Zeke Miller asked “[w]hy haven’t we heard directly from the President”, he was followed by ABC’s Karen Travers wondering whether “anyone from the administration been in touch with…any of these universities that are seeing these protests”, CBS’s Weijia Jiang asking the same except with the NYPD, and NPR’s Mara Liasson inquiring as to how read in Biden is on the chaos.

Gutierrez finally called out what had been denials from Jean-Pierre about how much Biden knows and why he’s been out of sight aside from paper statements:

I wanted to follow up on a previous question that was asked. And, respectfully, you didn’t quite answer it. The question was, why hasn’t the President been more forceful in talking about the protests. You talk about how he’s talked about anti-Semitism. But specifically on the protest, why hasn’t the President been more forceful on that?

Jean-Pierre grew defensive, claiming she “hear[s] the question….but…the President has been the — one — the — no other president has spoken about anti-Semitism than this President.”

Gutierrez countered that was “not the question” and Jean-Pierre hit back that she was “answering it in the way that, I believe, is the best way to” do so with binder notes about Biden’s “strategic plan to deal — to counter anti-Semitism more than 100 new actions…across the administration.”

Some blah, blah, blah later, Gutierrez followed up with a fact-check (click “expand”):

GUTIERREZ: You mentioned that the President has taken questions on this. Again, respectfully he — he hasn’t. He did take a question where he said he “condemns those who don’t understand what’s going on with the Palestinians.” I know you’ve been asked about that. But since you brought up Charlottesville, what do you say to those critics who say that he is trying to have it both ways that he’s essentially, you know, trying to talk about both anti-Semitism and what’s going on with the Palestinians?

JEAN-PIERRE: I would say to those critics is no. He’s not doing a both sides scenario here. When you think about Charlottesville, you think about the — the — the vile anti-Semitism that we heard on the streets of Charlottesville, right here, uh, in Virginia — right — not far from here. The President and many of us wanted to make sure that was called out. Somebody died. A young woman lost her life and, when the President saw that, it put him in a situation where he believed it was the right thing to speak against that. He wrote an op ed that was in The Atlantic because — about that — about that. He decided to run because of what he saw in Charlottesville and that was just vile, nasty rhetoric. And you had — um — you know, a former President talk about both sides. There was no both sides here. None. Absolutely none. As it relates to the Palestinians, he was talking about the humanitarian — a dire humanitarian situation — that we’re currently seeing. I just mentioned the Secretary — Secretary Blinken is going to be talking about the humanitarian aid that we are trying to get into Gaza for the people of Gaza. We’re trying to get this hostage deal done so that we can get hostages home and create an environment to get humanitarian aid that would lead — also, the hostages would lead to a ceasefire. Those things are not the same. They are just not the same. Fundamentally, not the same. And it is in bad faith. It is in bad faith to say that.

Incredibly, one reporter moments later wondered if President Biden’s concerned the rise of campus protests are “turning“ ”the court of public opinion…against what the President is standing for” in supporting Israel:

USA Today’s Joey Garrison had a few questions from the left, including twice bringing to the forefront concerns about how university leaders and law enforcement have acted “harshly” in ““forcibly shut[ting] down” encampments:

After having been ignored on Monday, she called on Doocy and, like always, he asked something no one else in the room had brought up:

Some of these encampments, they had a matching tents. We’re being told that there are professional outside agitators involved. We don’t know if they’re being paid to sow chaos by domestic folks or foreign entities. Does President Biden want his administration to find out who is funding some of these protests?

Our friend Nicole Silverio of the Daily Caller had it right when she tweeted the Jean-Pierre promptly “short-circuited”.

Click “expand” to read her psychobabble and Doocy’s hardball follow-up wondering if Biden’s silence served as further indication that he’s “worried about losing the youth vote” if he were to firmly denounce them:

JEAN-PIERRE: What I can say — you know — um — I cannot — uh — I cannot speak to — uh — the organizations that are being reported out on the ground. That is not something for me to speak to. That is obviously something that local governments — uh — local officials — I keep saying local government — local officials are going to speak to. They’ll have better information on that. What we have said — and I don’t think I’ve iterated that yet from here is that the DOJ and FBI is going to continue to offer support to universities and colleges — uh — with — in respect to federal laws, so that is something that the DOJ and FBI is doing. As far as local organizations and what is all being reported on the ground, that is something that — I’m — that local law enforcement, I’m certainly, is looking into.

DOOCY: And I understand that President Biden historically has spoken —

JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah.

DOOCY: — very forcefully about anti-Semitism, but this week, he’s not. He’s MIA. Is he that worried about losing the youth vote with these protesters?

JEAN-PIERRE: I’m going to be mindful. You’re talking about youth vote. You’re talking about 2024.

DOOCY: Support of young people.

JEAN-PIERRE: No, no, no, no. I — I — I — I have to say what I have to say and just give me a second. 

(….)

JEAN-PIERRE: I’ll speak more broadly. I can’t speak to youth people, youth and support and voters. That’s not something I can do from here. Uh, the President has taken a lot of policy actions here that he knows that young people care about and a lot of those actions are popular with those young folks, whether it’s giving a little bit of breathing room with student debt relief — so we made announcement today, matter of fact, and we are going to continue to do that, because we think it’s important as families or as an American and you coming out of college and you wanna build a family by home — uh — you have the opportunity to do that and not be crushed by student debt. The President understands how important it is to deal with that issue. Climate change — something that young people really truly care about. One of the crises that the President said he came into having to deal with was the climate change crisis. This is a President that has taken more — has taken aggressive, aggressive action to deal with climate crisis. You know, look, I can’t speak to — um — I can’t speak to youth voters or their support, but we’re going to do continue to take actions that we believe helps all Americans and all communities.

Doocy had one more question: “[Y]ou mentioned what he said in 2017 after Charlottesville. He said, about Trump’s response then, ‘Charlottesville, for me, was a moment where I thought silence would be complicity.’ So how does he explain — how do you explain his silence this week?”

Like with Gutierrez, Jean-Pierre stood pat and reiterated Biden “has not been silent on this issue when it comes to hate speech, anti-Semitism” but Doocy noted “he hasn’t” and his written words obviously mean nothing since “a school building at an Ivy League campus got taken over.”

Jean-Pierre dithered away and ran out the clock until Wegmann came up to close the briefing. 

Like Doocy, Wegmann stuck to his reputation of going against the grain. This time, he wondered what the administration made of “some of these college campuses where we’ve seen the U.S. flag torn down and the Palestinian flag replace it.”

Jean-Pierre declined to comment and instead spoke more generally about how none should be able to “disturb campuses in the way of taking over buildings in the way that we have seen” and “it is a dangerous time for [the Jewish] community and we have been very clear about what we need to do to fight that hate.”

The Press Secretary also refused to weigh in on Wegmann’s other question about whether Biden believes “higher education has gone off the rails that, you know, something more fundamental has gone wrong on these college campuses” given the rampant anti-Semitism among younger Americans.

To see the relevant transcript from the May 1 briefing (including even more protests-related questions), click here.

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