White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki sparred with Fox News reporter Peter Doocy during a White House press briefing in which the Biden administration outlined its work to extend a nationwide eviction moratorium put in place last year to assist tenants affected by the financial fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Doocy, the son of Fox and Friends commentator Steve Doocy and himself a regular critic of the Biden administration, used the briefing as an opportunity to ask why landlords aren't receiving more assistance but was quickly shut down.
Federal funds are available to compensate landlords who've lost rental income over the last year, but that fact appeared lost on Doocy, who asked:
"There's been a major push here recently to protect tenants from being evicted right now, why isn't more being done to help the landlords who are struggling to pay their bills because they're not being paid?"
You can watch their exchange in the video below:
Psaki, without missing a beat, noted that landlords "can benefit from exactly the same emergency rental assistance that renters can benefit from." Doocy, however, retorted that many states "are not distributing these funds," citing a Washington Post report that noted the eviction moratorium could drive landlords, the majority of which are "mom and pop operations," into bankruptcy.
That's when Psaki shut the conversation down:
"Well, that's exactly why, and I'm happy to have you as a partner in this effort, we are trying to advocate for states, localities to get this money out."
"There's no reason it's not going out to landlords, to renters, no reason that people who are eligible are not benefiting, and we've seen a number of states—red states and blue states—do this very effectively."
"Texas, as an example I used yesterday, Virginia is one I highlighted today. This is why we're doing as much of this outreach and engagement as we're doing."
Social media users criticized Doocy after the clip of the exchange went viral.
Aside from her exchange with Doocy, Psaki also brushed aside concerns from reporters about the constitutionality of extending the eviction moratorium:
"I think what's important to note here is that the President would not have moved forward with a step where he didn't feel comfortable and confident in the legal justification. But he asked the CDC and his legal experts to look at what is possible. This is a narrow, targeted moratorium that is different from the national moratorium. It's not an extension of that."
Psaki is no stranger to Doocy's pointed questions. Earlier this week, she shut down Doocy after he suggested that former President Barack Obama is a "super spreader" and not following Covid-19 guidelines. And just last week, she schooled Doocy on how viruses are ever-evolving phenomena after he implied that President Joe Biden should have known that the Delta variant, currently responsible for the majority of Covid-19 infections in the United States, is more contagious than prior variants.
All in a day's work for Psaki. Tune in later this week for the inevitable next chapter in their working relationship.