White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki shut down a Fox News reporter who claimed that "crime is not a priority" for President Joe Biden while misconstruing remarks Psaki made on a podcast earlier this week in which she criticized Fox News's reporting.
Psaki had recently had an interview with the liberal podcast Pod Save America in which she drew comparisons between different media outlets and their coverage of the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
At the time, Psaki, citing a remark by Fox News personality Jeanine Pirro, who'd criticized the Biden administration for "soft on crime consequences," suggested that crime is being overhyped by Fox News and other conservative media outlets.
These comments were at the forefront of the mind of Fox News reporter Jacqui Heinrich, who asked Psaki to address a line that :has prompted some criticism from people" and suggested that these remarks "would reflect that crime is not a priority of this administration."
You can watch the exchange in the video below.
Psaki got right to the point, noting that her observations that "there’s an alternate universe on some coverage" and that many people "watch that and they think that the president isn’t doing anything to address people’s safety in New York" were simply a response to a chyron on Fox News, the very network Heinrich works for:
"Well, I encourage anyone to listen to the full context of the interview and the conversation. 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.”
She then acknowledged the steps President Joe Biden and his administration have taken to address crime, noting that "the facts speak for themselves":
"The facts speak for themselves. 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. Also, President Biden has proposed a significant increase in funding for local COPS programs in his budget – more than the prior president. That’s a fact.”
“So if those facts are uncomfortable, I’m sorry for people who feel they need to be critical, but the president has been a longtime advocate of addressing crime. He’s never been for defunding the police.”
Many have praised Psaki for her response
Psaki's remarks later found their way to Jeanine Pirro, who responded directly to Psaki live on The Five, the Fox News program she co-hosts.
In her remarks, Pirro reiterated her stance that the Biden adminsitration is "soft on crime" and accused Psaki of being "so locked up in your ivory tower" that she is out of tune with the desires of the average American.
Pirro, who has a reported net worth of $14 million, said the following with no sense of irony whatsoever:
"She [Psaki] wants to know why I’m talking about the consequences of soft on crime."
"Well, I’m talking about the consequences of the Democrat, liberal, progressive, leftist, soft-on-crime, criminal-loving, victim-hating group that has made a decision that no bail, no jail and that criminals are–they should be privilege and that social justice and rogue prosecutors should not be a part of the criminal justice system."
Pirro went on to declare that President Biden has "ignored the looting, the burning, the rioting, and he ignored the burning of a federal courthouse, and police precincts," comments that bring to mind former President Donald Trump's repeated allegations of lawlessness on the part of Black Lives Matter and other groups advocating for racial justice.
In 2020, the Trump administration's Department of Justice (DOJ) designated the cities of New York, Portland, and Seattle as "jurisdictions permitting violence and destruction of property," a development that only intensified already inflammatory coverage on Fox News and from other conservative media outlets.