Fox News White House correspondent Peter Doocy appeared to hit a nerve when asking if President Biden has made a recent attempt to communicate with Chinese President Xi Jinping, given all the “free time” Biden has while isolating himself after testing positive for COVID-19 for a second time — or is it the third? It’s getting hard to keep track.
National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby was at Thursday’s press briefing, giving outmatched White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre a much-needed assist, and Doocy had just asked why Biden was not being as tough towards China after all the saber-rattling over Taiwan as he was with Russia over the invasion of Ukraine — China is conducting live-fire military drills near Taiwan following Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit this week.
Kirby challenged the “premise” of the question, and Doocy then said, “I know you said that there is not a call scheduled with Xi. Is there a reason why? Because President Biden has known him for decades. He has got a lot of free time up there in the residence this week.”
“He doesn’t have free time,” Kirby quickly countered.
“He can’t just pick up the phone and call?” Doocy asked.
“He’s been working all the way through his illness, quite frankly, Peter. So that’s a little bit insulting,” Kirby replied.
The Fox News correspondent disagreed that his remark was insulting when talking about “someone who is isolating by themselves.”
“You suggested he has a lot of free time as if he’s not doing anything. And you know that’s not the truth,” Kirby said.
“Now, look, as for a call with President Xi, I don’t have anything on the President’s schedule to speak to,” he continued. “If ever the President felt like a call with President Xi was the appropriate way to respond or that it would have an effect and an outcome that he wants to achieve, he certainly would be willing to do that. He’s talked to Xi now five times; it’s not like he’s afraid to pick up the phone and call President Xi. And if there’s a — if a call is the right answer, I’m sure that President Biden will do that. But I’m not going to get ahead of the President on this.”
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