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One thing that has become painfully obvious since Karine Jean-Pierre replaced Jen Psaki as the White House press secretary is that she is really, really not up to the job. It could be expected that she might need a few days behind the briefing room podium to find her bearings and get the hang of the job. However, if you watch her daily press briefings, you see that not only is she not improving, she is getting worse. Every day. That is particularly unfortunate for the Biden White House because it is bogged down in numerous crises that Americans want answers to.
The White House press briefings can become heated when reporters feel slighted by Jean-Pierre’s non-answers, or answers that have nothing to do with the original question. If she can’t read an answer directly from her briefing book, she is lost for an answer to just about everything. It’s cringeworthy since she is supposed to represent a communications professional. Most of us didn’t like Psaki’s manner and condescension but at least she could think on her feet and projected some grasp of knowledge on most topics. KJP can’t.
Thursday night KJP hosted a private White House briefing in the press briefing room for parents, parenting writers, and influencers. She brought along Adm. Rachel Levine, U.S. assistant secretary of health, and Dr. Ashish Jha, the White House coronavirus coordinator. The topics of discussion were the baby formula shortage and COVID-19 vaccines. The private briefing was held after a ‘lid’ was called for the day – the signal that reporters can leave for the day – and the two White House officials who were invited to participate did not answer questions from the press that was around. What happened to all that Biden administration transparency we were promised?
Levine told journalists she wasn’t answering any questions from journalists as she left the room. She did, however, hang around to take photos with babies. Needless to say, the president of the White House Correspondents’ Association didn’t like that. ‘Any US government official who stands at that podium should be ready to take any question from any member of our press corps.” I do wonder why Levine was chosen to talk to the group. She is the Biden administration’s token transgender official.
Reporters were interested in when Biden was made aware of the baby formula shortage and who briefed him. Those are reasonable questions yet the White House has not provided a logical answer for them.
After hosting faux press briefing on baby formula crisis, Admiral Levine posed with babies at WH podium
Ask by a reporter if she could say when President Biden learned of the crisis and from whom, she said:
‘I’m not answering any questions, thank you’ pic.twitter.com/mIqojVg0Az
— Steven Nelson (@stevennelson10) June 16, 2022
Jha and Levine did do Q&A with the bloggers and representatives from parents’ groups.
The baby blogger briefing wasn’t on the official schedule and wasn’t livestreamed on the White House site.
Reporters who were still at their White House workspaces stumbled upon it.
Earlier Thursday during the regular press briefing, KJP has a couple of contentious exchanges with reporters who asked about Biden’s knowledge of the formula shortage. Shouldn’t she have asked Levine to have an answer to those questions for the press if she was talking about it to bloggers and influencers? One problem the Biden administration’s communications team has is its reliance on social media and influencers to get their message out on any given topic. They assume that most Americans live on social media, which is not the case. Yet, Team Biden continues to think a celebrity or popular influencer will solve its communication problems. Biden’s polling numbers are still in the dumpster, though, so clearly this strategy isn’t working. Independent voters, in particular, continue to flee from supporting Biden.
There must have been plenty of questions about the baby formula crisis since news that Abbott Nutrition began production only to have to shut it down again due to severe weather in the area. The plant had to pause production in Michigan due to flooding after severe rainstorms. Production of Abbott’s EleCare specialty formula was suspended again but the company says there is enough supply to meet demand until production can restart. No word yet when exactly that will be.
Abbott had prioritized ramping up production of the specialty formula for infants with severe food allergies and digestive problems who have few other options for nutrition.
Abbott says it needs to assess damage and re-sanitize the factory after severe thunderstorms and heavy rains swept through southwestern Michigan late Monday. Spokesman Jonathon Hamilton said flooding hit a few areas of the factory, but he declined to provide more specific details about damage.
The storm also brought high winds, hail and power failures to Sturgis, Michigan, where the factory is located. The company expects production and distribution to be delayed for a few weeks as it cleans the plant.
One step forward for worried parents, two steps back. What a mess.
The very least the Biden administration owes the American public is some real answers about some of its crises. If it is true that Joe Biden was only made aware of the formula shortage in April, that is completely unacceptable. People should be fired. And the fact that his cabinet let the problem fester as it did is a dereliction of duty. People have to be held accountable. It would also be nice if we had a curious press in the White House briefing room, asking some tough questions.