White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki has the tough job of having to allow right-wing “news” outlets like Fox News, OAN and Breitbart a chance to ask questions to which she then must provide an answer. It’s a reverse reality exercise wherea Psaki must provide facts to the obviously alternate-reality spin being served up to her. This is the opposite of what Donald Trump’s many press secretaries’ jobs were during his four years in office.
On Thursday, Psaki fielded questions about everything from Biden’s proposed infrastructure plan to voter suppression in Georgia and Texas. Georgia’s painfully racist voter suppression law, passed in the wake of the election of the state’s first-ever Black and Jewish senators, has received blowback from everyone: from the White House, from corporations, and from millions of Americans who consider the right to vote the most foundational of American rights.
Some guy wearing an American flag face mask, after rambling about how the Georgia bill has been misrepresented by the Biden administration, attempted to ask Press Secretary Psaki about “tone.” It went as well for him as you might imagine.
The press member was Fox Business’s Edward Lawrence, who attempted a gotcha moment regarding Joe Biden’s statement that the Georgia law would “end voting at five o’clock,” which isn’t factually correct. The law itself codifies a handful of known obstacles for mail-in voting ballot requests (requiring a driver’s license or state ID card), and adds narrower parameters of where and when ballot drop boxes can be used. All of these moves have been proven to do nothing in the way of deterring voter fraud—the fake claim made by conservative proponents of these bills. The new voting restrictions in the bill have however, been proven to suppress voter turnout over the years in other Republican-led experiments against Democracy. The law also shortens runoff times by more than half, potentially shortening early voting measures for an already racist election procedure that only antebellum Georgia requires.
So Fox Business’ Lawrence wanted to get the gotcha fact-check question out of the way, but he made a terrible, terrible mistake: He forgot that this detail was the only leg he had to stand on. Instead, Lawrence mealy-mouthed his way into somehow justifying the Georgia law as anything but an act of voter suppression. After a back and forth where Psaki attempted to explain that the White House’s issue is the bill’s singular interest in suppressing the vote of (mostly) people of color, Lawrence asked whether or not the White House would change its “tone” surrounding the bill. HIs angle here, because he works at Fox Business, is that corporations like Delta and Coca-Cola—big business presences in Georgia—have been coming down hard on the Republican Party for their racist voter suppression law.
Psaki calmly asked Lawrence whether he meant “the tone for a bill that limits voting access and makes it more difficult for people to engage in voting, in Georgia?” Edwards responded with arguably the weakest piece of sauce in the history of weaksauce: “That’s actually not what the governor of has said.” Psaki responded that Gov. Kemp—best known for winning an election reliant on the suppression of hundreds of thousands of Black votes, while making false claims of voter fraud against everyone else—is saying things “not based in fact.”
Finally, Psaki gave Lawrence and his Fox Business audience a concise rationale for the White House “tone,” and why it was not a conversation she would be sidetracked with. “If you are making it harder to vote, we do not support that.”
Watch it for yourself.