There is a surprising shift happening in mainstream media: Journalists are pushing back against Biden’s White House.
It seems even CNN doesn’t appreciate seeing skeptical reporters get smeared as enemy sympathizers for doing their jobs.
On The Lead, Thursday, Jake Tapper and a table full of reporters discussed the disturbing trend coming from government spokespeople who, increasingly, are questioning the loyalty of any reporter who asks something they don’t want to answer.
As an example, Tapper played a clip from White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki’s daily press briefing, in which an NPR asked if the administration would provide any evidence that a bomb, detonated by ISIS leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi, was to blame for his death and the deaths of his wife and children in Syria.
“Because there may be people that are skeptical of the events that took place and what happened to the civilians,” the reporter said.
The exchange that ensued was shocking.
“Skeptical of the U.S. military’s assessment when they went and took out an ISIS terror — the leader of ISIS?” Psaki asked.
“Yes,” the reporter said.
“That they are not providing accurate information –” Psaki said.
Again, the reporter responded, “Yes.”
“–and ISIS is providing accurate information?” Psaki asked, with a notable tone of sarcasm.
The reporter tried again:
“Well, not ISIS,” he said, “but, I mean, the U.S. has not always been straightforward about what happens with civilians. And, I mean, that is a fact.”
“So, that’s Jen Psaki squaring off with NPR’s Ayesha Rascoe, who’s often at this table, suggesting that if you are skeptical of what the U.S. Pentagon claims, then you are on the side of ISIS,” said Tapper. “ISIS is providing accurate information.”
To drive his point more firmly home, Tapper played a second clip — this time, of State Department spokesperson Ned Price, who on Tuesday told another reporter, “If you doubt the credibility of the U.S. government, of the British government, of other governments and want to, you know, find solace in information that the Russians are putting out, that is for you to do.”
The exchange between AP reporter Matt Lee and Price over Price’s announcement that Russia was planning a “False Flag” event to justify its invasion of Ukraine was epic, with Lee refusing to back down.
“It’s an action that you say they have taken, but you have shown no evidence to confirm that,” Lee states. “This is like — crisis actors? Really? This is like Alex Jones territory you’re getting into now.”
Reporter: “It’s an action that you say they have taken, but you have shown no evidence to confirm that. […] This is like – crisis actors? Really? This is like Alex Jones territory you’re getting into now.”
— The Hill (@thehill) February 3, 2022
Tapper turned to fellow CNN anchor, Abby Phillip, to lay into the Biden administration.
“So, Abby,” he said, “the reason I do that is because what the Biden administration is doing here is saying to journalists, whose jobs are to be skeptical — and let us also note that U.S. intelligence and the Pentagon have not only gotten things wrong before, they have openly lied to the American people before. Then you have Psaki and Price saying, ‘Oh, so you side with our enemies?'”
“Yeah. I mean, come on, these types of statements require scrutiny because frankly if we’re being generous, there is such a thing as the fog of war,” Phillip responded. “Sometimes you believe something has happened when it has not, and so it is the job of us as journalists to ask the questions, and these entities, government entities, often go back and find that what they told us — for example, about that other Afghanistan strike during the withdrawal that didn’t turn out to have been executed the way that they said it was. That happened just in the last 12 months. So the idea that this is somehow out of the question or out of the ordinary to ask these kinds of questions, to probe on these issues, especially when we’re talking about the deaths of children is ridiculous.”
“I mean, there is a history of the U.S. government either intentionally or not misleading the American public when it comes to these serious military actions,” said Seung Min Kim, White House correspondent for the Washington Post. “So it is the job of journalists on behalf of the public, the viewers and the readers to provide evidence or to ask for evidence and to ask for backup. So the questioning from our colleague was, I thought, terrific to speak for her. And I think — it’s just basically part of our job. The more that the public understands the process of what we do and what our mandate is and what we are charged with doing, I think it’s just better for the public to understand.”
“We asked questions of the Trump Administration as well,” Philip pointed out.
“To double down that dogmatically and say if you don’t believe initial reports you’re on the side of our adversaries is a position that’s going to come back and bite them,” said former Trump official Alyssa Farrah Griffin.
Tapper concluded the segment with a statement that is reminiscent of journalism’s better days:
“There’s a long history in this country, that long predates the existence of everybody at this table, except for me and Paul, of the U.S Government lying to the American people,” Tapper stated. “Lying for the right reasons, maybe, or because they had the wrong information or they’re backing their guys, but it is our job to challenge.”
Yes, it is Jake.
Glad you guys remember that.
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