White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said last week that the reason Americans believe there is a crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border is because of “some components” of the “media.”
Psaki blamed the impression that the Southern border has plunged into chaos on media coverage while speaking on Thursday’s episode of CNN’s podcast, “The Axe Files with David Axelrod.”
More than two-thirds of Americans say the Biden administration is doing a “very” or “somewhat bad” job handling the illegal immigration crisis at the Southern border.
“A big driver” of those negative impressions, Psaki said, was “the nature of some components of social media and media these days.”
Axelrod, a former chief strategist under President Obama, described Psaki’s back-and-forth with the White House press corps as a “wrestling match you go through several times a week as to whether you’re going to call it a ‘crisis,’ or how you’re going to describe it,” Fox News reported.
The White House refused to use the term “crisis,” because “we just didn’t want to feed into that on this issue, or really any issue,” she added.
“To us, it’s like, ‘That wasn’t really a crisis; it was a huge challenge,’” Psaki told Axelrod.
Finding alternatives to the term “crisis” has marked Psaki’s tenure as the Biden administration’s most conspicuous public spokesperson during one of the worst border crises in modern history.
Illegal border crossings have skyrocketed since Biden revoked President Donald Trump’s Migrant Protection Protocols(MPP), which encouraged migrants to wait in other countries while they applied for asylum status.
The number of illegal immigrants arrested by the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has more than doubled since Joe Biden’s inauguration in January. The CBP arrested 172,331 illegal immigrants in March — including 19,000 children — up 71% in one month. Total border crossings in March reached the highest level in 15 years, according to The Washington Post.
Although the Biden administration has tried to suppress photos of unaccompanied minors being held in overcrowded facilities, images have emerged of children unable to observe social distancing.
The American people may also have gotten the impression that the uncontrolled flow of undocumented immigrants across the Southern border is a crisis from border state Democrats, who have been outspoken about the damage a virtually open border has had on their communities.
“The reality is, is that this is a crisis,” said Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., on Thursday. “We all know it.” Her colleague, Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., stated in late April that the current immigration situation amounts to “a crisis on the border in Arizona and Texas.” And earlier this month Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Tex., said, “There is a border crisis, no ifs about it.”
Cuellar announced that more than 15,000 illegal aliens had missed their court date under the Biden administration’s renewed catch-and-release policy, which amounts to a version of the “honors system.”
Psaki has attempted to blunt the impact of these stories during press briefings. She refused to comment on video footage of human smugglers, known as coyotes, appearing to throw a three-year-old child and a five-year-old child over a border wall. On April 1, Psaki told Fox News reporter Peter Doocy, “[O]ur focus is on sending a clear message to smugglers — to the region – that this is not the time to come.”
She did not specify the right time for human smugglers to come to America.
Rather than a “crisis,” she has used the blander phrase “challenges on the border.”
But Psaki has not always been consistent on the matter herself. During her March 18 briefing, Psaki discussed the “crisis on the border.” When a reporter asked about her use of the term, Psaki immediately walked it back.
President Biden, too, talked about “the crisis that ended up on the border with young people” on April 17. The White House later told the media that Biden’s remarks do not reflect the official position of the Biden-Harris administration.
In the interview with Axelrod, Psaki downplayed the importance of immigration to the American people, saying most have other priorities.
“What percentage of the public is focused on the border? A much smaller percentage than who’s focused on the pandemic and the economy,” she said.
But a recent Pew Research Center found that 43% of Americans say the media have not spent enough time covering immigration.
Ben Johnson is the Media Reporter at The Daily Wire. He previously worked at the Acton Institute, FrontPage Magazine, and LifeSiteNews. He’s the author of three books, including Party of Defeat (2008, with David Horowitz).
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