Last month President Biden announced an initiative to get more Americans vaccinated, the surest method of controlling the COVID pandemic and returning to some semblance of normalcy. The core of the plan would require vaccinations or weekly testing for federal employees, school staff, and private businesses with 100 or more employees.
The Biden plan was overwhelmingly popular according to a Fox News poll. So naturally, Fox News immediately came out against the proposal. Never mind the fact that their own corporate policy is even more strict than Biden’s, requiring daily testing for the unvaccinated. The narrative at Fox news was that the Biden “mandates” would be a drag on business and employment. And to support that baseless notion, Fox ran stories about flight cancelations at Southwest Airlines being caused by the mandates. Which, by the way, have not been implemented by the federal government, but have been by private businesses.
At Tuesday’s White House press briefing, the subject was raised by Fox News correspondent Jacqui Heinrich. Perhaps Peter Doocy was staging a sickout. Heinrich asked Press Secretary Jen Psaki a “people say” question (without mentioning that it was only people at Fox News and partisan Republicans saying anything) about the effect of mandates on the nation’s workforce. Psaki’s reply managed to silence Heinrich, as well as one of the previously unnamed people making the false claims:
Heinrich: What’s the White House response to people who say that vaccine mandates have reduced the workforce and contributed to this problem?
Psaki: Well, I know world renowned business travel and health expert, Senator Ted Cruz, has made that point, but I wouldn’t say that that is widely acknowledged or echoed by business leaders who have implemented these mandates, by health experts who have conveyed that the way to get out of the pandemic is to ensure that we are doing exactly the steps the President has announced and we are working to implement. It doesn’t mean that this is hard and challenging. Of course it is. We are in the middle of a global pandemic. But ultimately, the job of the President is to lead.
OUCH! In one powerhouse swing, Psaki put to rest the falsehoods about what right-wingers have dubbed the “Freedom Flu” (which presumably is treated with Freedom Fries). She went on to note that the false reporting about flight cancelations at Southwest Airlines were not caused by any reaction to policies by the Biden administration or Southwest’s own efforts to protect the health of their employees and customers. “We now know,” she said, “that some of those claims were absolutely false and actually the issues were completely unrelated to vaccine mandates.” Then she reiterated that “this is the way to save lives, create more certainty, it’s good for the economy, and it’s something we’re looking forward to implementing.”
Predictably, Fox’s Tucker Carlson was also lying about the Southwest situation. But for the record, the president of the Southwest Pilots Union was actually on Fox News and told them that “It’s absolutely false that our pilots are engaged in any sort of job action.”
The jab at Ted Cruz for promoting the falsehoods about vaccine-triggered sickouts at Southwest, and his callous betrayal of his constituents in Texas during a deadly winter freeze, were just icing on the cake. Ms. Psaki has a way of gently dispensing some devastating snark just when it’s needed most.
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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.