Former President Donald Trump’s various press secretaries have faced widespread denunciation by the mainstream media based on allegations that they skirted serious topics and distorted the truth.
Less than a week into President Joe Biden’s first term, however, White House press secretary Jen Psaki has already given a head-spinning response to one reporter who dared to seek justification for Biden’s newfound support of a COVID-19 travel restriction similar to one he once called “xenophobic.”
“Putting travel restrictions on people”
Psaki told Fox News Channel’s Peter Doocy that his question was “unfair” before dismissing his concerns about an executive order Biden signed this week.
The action bans most travel from South Africa, where a new strain of the pandemic virus is spreading. The president maintained restrictions on other nations that Trump argued should be canceled shortly before he left office.
.@PDoocy: “When…Trump was imposing travel restrictions in March, specifically on China…Biden called it ‘xenophobic’ and ‘fear-mongering.’
Now, President Biden is putting travel restrictions on people coming in from other countries.
What word do we use to describe that?” pic.twitter.com/kgXD3vkB5k
— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) January 25, 2021
During the press briefing on Monday, Doocy asked Psaki to explain the perceived discrepancy between Biden’s current rhetoric and comments he made on the campaign trail in reference to Trump’s travel bans — particularly on China — early on in the public health crisis as “xenophobic” and “fearmongering.”
According to Psaki, Biden only used those terms to describe earlier bans on largely Muslim countries. She went on to claim that Biden primarily opposed Trump’s travel restrictions because they were not part of a larger “comprehensive” COVID-19 plan.
“We need to lead the way with science”
“I don’t think that’s quite a fair articulation,” Psaki said. “The president has been clear that he felt the Muslim ban was xenophobic. But he was critical of the former president for having a policy that was not more comprehensive than travel restrictions.”
A cursory review of Biden’s comments as a presidential candidate should end any speculation regarding his true intentions.
“We are in the midst of a crisis with the Coronavirus,” he said last year. “We need to lead the way with science — not Donald Trump’s record of hysteria, xenophobia, and fearmongering.”
Biden has also taken exception to Trump’s boasts regarding the ban on travel from pandemic hotspots, even accusing the then-president of “xenophobia” in one tweet on the subject.
As an example, the former vice president said in March that “banning all travel from Europe, or any other part of the world, will not stop” the virus.