White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki used some really basic epistemology techniques in a recent press briefing that made a Newsmax reporter’s gotcha questions sound foolish. The reporter’s name is Emerald Robinson and she opened the exchange by saying “there’s a growing perception [Biden’s presidency] is really just the third term of President Obama. What do you say to people who say that?” Psaki, instead of buying into the framing, challenged Robinson to say specifically who has been saying that, which of course she couldn’t do. Robinson also mentioned in her question that Biden has a “relatively light schedule” which is funny following a president who spent his entire lame duck period complaining about his reelection defeat. The White House spokesperson began to grow impatient with the lack of specifics on the reporter’s question and the clear attempt to drive a narrative across.
Once the first gotcha question failed, Emerald thought it a good idea to ask about a different topic — coronavirus. Instead of inquiring about the status of the vaccine rollout or new CDC guidelines, Robinson wanted to know if Dr. Anthony Fauci had anything to hide regarding the Wuhan lab leak theory. She asked a specific question about a program in China apparently funded by the National Institutes of Health, which Jen was not aware of. The reporter then suggested the lab leak hypothesis was believed by all public health officials except for Dr. Fauci and that Biden had to choose between Fauci and the rest of them. While it’s true that some virologists like former CDC Director Robert Redfield have come around to the lab leak theory, most experts in this field maintain the virus likely jumped from an animal to a human. Regardless, Biden and Fauci don’t have an agenda on the topic and are operating based on what the research finds. Jen Psaki reiterated that there should be an investigation as to the origins of COVID-19 led by public health experts and then quickly moved onto the next reporter.
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