In the early days of her stint as White House press secretary, Jen Psaki frequently answered “nosy” reporters’ questions by promising to “circle back to” them after she had received permission to answer. Frequently, permission was denied, but that’s all history. Nowadays, it appears that Psaki is trusted to devise her own obfuscations, one of which she debuted at yesterday’s press briefing.
The subject was “breakthrough” cases of COVID in the White House. A breakthrough case is one in which a person tests positive for the virus after being fully vaccinated. At a presser earlier this week, Psaki confirmed mulitple breakthrough cases involving White House staffers and an aide in Nancy Pelosi’s office, all of whom had come into contact with the Democratic lawmakers who had flown to D.C. from Texas. She would not, however, release the exact number of infections or call the Texas Dems’ visit a super spreader event.
At yesterday’s briefing, a reporter followed up on number of infections: “This administration has long claimed that you’re trying to be the most transparent in history. If that’s the case why don’t you just release the number of breakthrough cases that you have with vaccinated staffers?”
Psaki danced around the subject, noting that the U.S. was in a “very different place” than it was six or seven months ago and affirming that the cases were far les severe than the ones earlier in the pandemic and that the staffers were being well-cared for.
The reporter then pressed the issue: “Why not just provide the number? Are you trying to hide something?”
Psaki’s galling answer — “Why do you need to have that information?” — was meant to cut short the inquiry, but the reporter was prepared. “Transparency,” she explained, adding, “The interest of the public. A better understanding of how breakthrough cases work here in the White House.”
A clip of the exchange begins at 0:34 in the video below.