‘Distraction…Full of Old News’; KJP Pressed by Heinrich on the Twitter Files

Over the course of Monday’s 48-minute-long White House press briefing, Fox’s Jacqui Heinrich was the only member of the press corps called on who asked the ever-stammering Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre about Friday’s release of the Twitter Files by Twitter boss Elon Musk and journalist Matt Taibbi. Whether it be reporters for the Associated Press, CBS, or USA Today to name a few, they all remained silent.

Not surprisingly, Jean-Pierre dismissed the matter as a “distraction…full of old news” as Twitter’s facing “very serious questions about the rising volume of anger, hate, and anti-Semitism” that “they’re letting…happen” (which Musk has vehemently denied).

 

 

Heinrich broached the subject by first highlighting the fact that Jean-Pierre said last week that the Biden administration would be “keeping a close eye on” Musk and then asking: “Is it the White House’s view that decisions at Twitter were made appropriately in terms of decisions to censor reporting ahead of the election?”

Jean-Pierre feigned outrage and ignored her question, lamenting she “mischaracterize[d], actually, what I — what I actually said took it out of context” when what she meant was “we follow also what’s going on just like you guys are reporting and just like you guys are seeing and what I was commenting to is, like, yes, we’re — we’re seeing what’s happening with Twitter.”

She then invited Heinrich to ask her the question again. Heinirch noted that, based on some (debunked) claim of a “hacked materials clause at Twitter, decisions were made to censor reporting leading up to the election.” Therefore, she wants to know if the federal government believes such calls to censor “were made appropriately in light of what has come out.”

Taking the Clinton administration approach to the Big Tech and liberal media censorship that, based on our poll after the 2020 election, gave Joe Biden the win, Jean-Pierre shamelessly engaged in censorship denialism by saying it was “interesting or a coincidence…that [Musk] would so haphazardly — Twitter would so haphazardly push this distraction that is a — that is a — full of old news, if you think about it.”

Jean-Pierre then leveled the false claims about Musk and illustrated how the administration is indeed dead set on surveilling Musk:

And at the same time, Twitter is facing very real and very serious questions about the rising volume of anger, hate, and anti-Semitism on their platform and how they’re letting it happen. And you know, the President said last week more leaders need to speak out and reject this and it’s a very alarming and very dangerous.

Instead, she argued, Biden is focused on “helping…American families” and job creation since talking about censorship is (allegedly) “not healthy” and “won’t do anything to help a single American improve their lives.”

Before this, Heinrich and her Fox colleague Edward Lawrence of Fox Business Network attempted to pin Jean-Pierre down on the border crisis as Biden will be spending Tuesday at a microchips factory in Arizona.

Lawrence went first and wondered if Biden will “go to the border and see the situation for himself,” but Jean-Pierre wasn’t interested because Biden’s “trip tomorrow is about the American manufacturing boom we’re seeing all across the country thanks to, again, his economic policies” while seeing the border crisis would mean engaging in one of the “political stunts” Republicans have employed instead of acquiescing to Biden’s immigration proposals.

Heinrich then opened with a series of follow ups before a question about the Georgia runoff and then Twitter (click “expand”):

HEINRICH: If the President is not going to make time to visit the border during his trip to — tomorrow — during his trip tomorrow to a border state, will he do it in — in — new year?

JEAN-PIERRE: Look, I addressed this last week…What are Congressional Republicans going to do to actually deal with this issue, instead of doing political stunts, many of their political stunts that hurt families, that hurt kids, that hurt children — right — that hurt people who are — who are coming here to try to seek asylum, leaving a — a — you know, leaving a dictatorship. Instead of going to the border and talking about, you know — about things that not going to actually deliver and keep our border safe, why don’t they work with us? Why don’t they actually do something, why don’t they actually you know, help the President. Get the funding that — that he requested historic funding to — into Homeland — into the Department of Homeland Security? That’s one way of doing that. But again, they’re playing political games and doing political stunts. 

HEINRICH: The reason I ask is just because the President had said previously that he hadn’t had a lot of time to get to the border. He’s going to a border state tomorrow, so you would think maybe there would be time there. And if there isn’t tomorrow, can you say, at this point that he —

JEAN-PIERRE: What I’m saying is tomorrow, he’s going to actually focus on…a bipartisan issue…that is going to deliver for the people in Arizona, creating jobs…Now…if Republicans officials [sic] truly, truly want to deal with immigration…they would stop doing political stunts and actually work with us on the plan that we have put forward, which they are not…Again, they can come and actually do this in a bipartisan way just like we did with the Chips and Science Act.

To see the relevant transcript from December 5’s briefing, click “expand.”

White House press briefing [via Washington Post Live]
December 5, 2022
4:04 p.m. Eastern

EDWARD LAWRENCE: What about in Arizona — I just want to ask you — he’s going to that chips factory. Any plans in Arizona to go to the border and see the situation for himself there?

KARINE JEAN-PIERRE: So, I want to be very clear here. The President’s trip tomorrow is about the American manufacturing boom we’re seeing all across the country thanks to, again, his economic policies, again, more than we have seen in his — his —you know, almost two year term. More than 700,000 jobs — manufacturing jobs that have been created just here alone in the United States, so he’ll be visiting a TSMC, a company making a major investment to manufacturing cutting-edge chips in Phoenix. This investment will bring new jobs and economic opportunity to Arizona, very important to the people in Arizona and it’s a large part thanks to the Chips and Science Act the president signed into law and — a historic — let’s not forget — a bipartisan piece of legislation. And, look, we should be able to — to reach a bipartisan im — im — you know, a bipartisan agreement on immigration too. And that’s what we’re calling for, right? We’re asking for Republican officials to come and work with us and — and let’s have a bipartisan agreement on immigration instead of doing political stunts — instead of doing what they’re doing, going to the border, not actually coming up with any real ideas about that. That’s where I will leave it. That’s what the President is doing tomorrow — is going to go to Arizona, to talk about an important initiative that’s going to change Americans’ lives, as specifically in Arizona. [TO HEINRICH] Go ahead.

JACQUI HEINRICH: Thanks, Karine. Just to follow up on Edward’s question. If the President is not going to make time to visit the border during his trip to — tomorrow — during his trip tomorrow to a border state, will he do it in — in — new year?

JEAN-PIERRE: Look, I addressed this last week about the President visiting the Border. I’m not going to go beyond what I just laid out. I think and we believe the question, again, as I was just answering to your colleague in the back, is that — what are Congressional Republicans going to do to actually deal with this issue, instead of doing political stunts, many of their political stunts that hurt families, that hurt kids, that hurt children — right — that hurt people who are — who are coming here to try to seek asylum, leaving a — a — you know, leaving a dictatorship. Instead of going to the border and talking about, you know — about things that not going to actually deliver and keep our border safe, why don’t they work with us? Why don’t they actually do something, why don’t they actually you know, help the President. Get the funding that — that he requested historic funding to — into Homeland — into the Department of Homeland Security. That’s one way of doing that. But again, they’re playing political games and doing political stunts. 

HEINRICH: The reason I ask is just because the President had said previously that he hadn’t had a lot of time to get to the border. He’s going to a border state tomorrow, so you would think maybe there would be time there. And if there isn’t tomorrow, can you say, at this point that he —

JEAN-PIERRE: What I’m saying is tomorrow, he’s going to actually focus on an issue — a bipartisan issue that was voted in Congress — the Chips and Science Act, something that is going to deliver for the people in Arizona, creating jobs and making people’s lives better and making sure that we are bringing manufacturing back into the U.S. That is critically important. Now, what I’m saying the second part of that, that to your question, if Republicans officials [sic] truly, truly want to deal with immigration, they truly want to deal with the border, then they would stop doing political stunts and actually work with us on the plan that we have put forward, which they are not and that’s what we want to make very loud and clear. There’s ways to deal with this. Again, they can come and actually do this in a bipartisan way just like we did with the Chips and Science Act.

HEINRICH: The trip is obviously to Phoenix, not to the border, not to Georgia, which is sort of a pressing issue for Democrats, for the President. Have Democrats determined that a visit to Georgia would not help Senator Warnock’s re-election bid?

JEAN-PIERRE: The President actually — and I actually already answered this and I’ll just repeat what I just said. The President — when — and I want to be very careful about talking about an election that’s happening tomorrow because it’s an ongoing — it’s an election and I’m — have — I’m covered on the — the Hatch Act, so I’m not going to comment on that specifically. But when I — when we look back on the President’s role during the midterm elections, he played a significant role for Democrats. It was because, again, I just answered this question — is because of the way he made the contrast with Republican officials — again — who wanted to put some — who talked about putting Social Security and Medicare on the chopping block because they were upset about the Inflation Reduction Act, which is a historic piece of legislation that’s going to lower costs for American families. That’s what they were upset about. Because we were saying we want to make sure big corporations paid their fair share and not put it on the little guy and — and that’s what they put forward. And the American people are very — spoke — really loud and clear. That’s not what they want. They want us to continue to fight for their freedoms. They want us to continue to fight for democracy and, you know, that red wave never happened.

HEINRICH: Real quick on Twitter, real fast, Karine? Just real quick on Twitter cause you guys said you’re keeping a close eye on Elon Musk’s ownership and this is the first time we’ve talked to you since he released the files a few days ago. Is it the White House’s view that decisions at Twitter were made appropriately in terms of decisions to censor reporting ahead of the election?

JEAN-PIERRE: Let me — you — you — you mischaracterize, actually, what I — what I actually said took it out of context when you asked your question. Look, when I answered the question and I already — I actually already addressed this about how the White House and administration is — is seeing what’s happening on Twitter. We were — we follow also what’s going on just like you guys are reporting and just like you guys are seeing and what I was commenting to is, like, yes, we’re — we’re seeing what’s happening with Twitter. So, just wanted to clear that up because you definitely mischaracterized what I said or put it out of context. And so, can you ask your question again? 

HEINRICH: Yes. I mean, my question was that you had said, I think six or so days ago that the White House was watching closely the situation at Twitter after Elon Musk’s ownership of it, with respect to misinformation and because these files were released. On the basis of you know, hacked materials clause at Twitter, decisions were made to censor reporting leading up to the election. My question was is it the White House’s view that these decisions were made appropriately in light of what has come out?

JEAN-PIERRE: Which decisions?

HEINRICH: By Twitter.

JEAN-PIERRE: By Twitter on — okay. So, look, we see this as an interesting or a coincidence, if I may, that — that he would so haphazardly — Twitter would so haphazardly push this distraction that is a — that is a — full of old news, if you think about it. And at the same time, Twitter is facing very real and very serious questions about the rising volume of anger, hate, and anti-Semitism on their platform and how they’re letting it happen. And you know, the President said last week more leaders need to speak out and reject this and it’s a very alarming and very dangerous. And — but our focus right now is helping the American families. I just talked about what the President’s going to be doing in Arizona, talking about the Chips and Science Act, talking about how we’re bringing manufacturing jobs back here to the U.S., talking about, under this administration, more than 700,000 jobs have been created — in manufacturing jobs to be more specific. Look, what is happening — it’s — it’s not — it’s — frankly, it’s not healthy. It won’t do anything to help a single American improve their lives. And so, look, this isn’t — we see it as an interesting, you know, conc — you know, coincidence and — and, you know, it’s a distraction.

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