Jen Psaki Takes Issue with Reporter Who Dares to Ask About Boycotting Beijing Olympics

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Posted: Apr 03, 2021 8:37 PM
Jen Psaki Takes Issue with Reporter Who Dares to Ask About Boycotting Beijing Olympics

Source: AP Photo/Evan Vucci

For an administration that promised "transparency," White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki certainly doesn't like delivering it. One example from the other day came when Philip Wegmann of RealClearPolitics asked Psaki if Biden was going to take a stance on the upcoming 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, after he said he "strongly support[ed]" moving the All-Star game out of Atlanta, over Georgia's recently passed election reform law, which MLB ultimately did.

Here's the exchange, as provided by the White House transcript, with added emphasis:

Wegmann: And then, you know, the President had voiced his support for MLB making a decision about the All-Star Game in Georgia.  I’m wondering, when can we expect a final determination from the President about the United States participating in the Beijing Olympics, given that he said the Chinese President doesn’t have a democratic bone in his body? 

Psaki: Well, I think the U.S. Olympic Committee would play a big role in — 

Wegmann: But he’s weighed in on Major League Baseball here in United States.

Psaki:  He actually didn’t — I think — I don’t know if you heard the —

(Inaudible.)

Pskaki:  — the answer — the question and the answer that happened a few minutes ago where we addressed this, and I answered the question.  So — and I gave you a little more context, but maybe you weren’t paying attention to that part.

Psaki went on to call on another reporter. 

The answer she referred to was to clarify President Joe Biden "also was... not dictating that Major League Baseball move their game out of Georgia.  He was conveying that if that was a decision that was made, that he would certainly support that.  And that’s true in the context of the remarks he made in that interview." 

Nobody said the president was "dictating" that. He did "support that." He said he would "strongly support" that, when asked during a Wednesday interview with ESPN

Jordan Davidson of the Federalist pointed out Psaki "snapped" and "flipped out" at Wegmann. She did indeed. She also acted impatient, like it was a chore to do her job.

Wegmann was specifically asking about President Biden's take on the Olympics. The administration hasn't given a definitive answer, though members of Congress, like Rep. Michael Waltz (R-FL) have called on the president to do so. 

Psaki during a February 25 press conference had said "There hasn’t been a final decision made on that and, of course, we would look for guidance from the U.S. Olympic Committee." She also said during a February 3 press conference that "We’re not currently talking about changing our posture or our plans as it relates to the Beijing Olympics." 

If we're to take the U.S. Olympic Committee's word for it, it doesn't look like the United States will be boycotting the Olympics after all. "While we would never want to minimise what is happening from a human rights perspective in China, we do not support an athlete boycott," said USOPC president Susanne Lyons, according to Newsweek's Dan Cancian

As Newsweek's Jenni Fink reported on February 26, "China Pushes Back on 'Politicization of Sports' as Pressure Mounts for U.S. Olympics Boycott." Because of course the CCP would do that. 

President Biden has himself aptly pointed out that "Xi Jinping "doesn’t have a democratic with a small D bone in his body," as he did during his March 25 press conference. During the press conference he also bragged about his close relationship with Xi Jinping, though as I've offered in writing about this issue extensively, he hasn't taken advantage enough of that relationship. Instead, the Biden administration in a way has played right into the Chinese Communist Party's hands, which have called out the United States over "Black Lives Matter" while committing human rights abuses and acts of genocide.

The question could have given Psaki a chance to answer what inquiring minds want to know--isn't that her job, after all--or better yet, take a tough stance on China. 

Kudos to Wegmann for trying, though.