White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki’s start has been a rough one, even with a friendly press corps to help her along.
She’s become an instant social media meme for her frequent promises to “circle back” with answers to questions she either doesn’t know or wasn’t prepared for. This week, it was revealed that White House staff want reporters to submit questions in advance. And now, Psaki is under fire for ridiculing the U.S. Space Force.
To recap, in December 2019 then-President Donald Trump announced the Space Force as America’s newest military branch. He was instantly mocked by liberal pundits and late-night hosts.
But then the idea took root. Right after the election, media accounts suggested then-President-elect Joe Biden was being pressured to dump the Space Force. Yet the day after Biden took over, The Washington Times reported that he was, instead, likely to build on it. And Democrats began to take credit for Trump’s plan. The Times quoted Democratic Rep. Jim Cooper of Tennessee, who had said Space Force was “not a Trump idea. He tried to hijack it long after the House Armed Services Committee voted 60-1 to establish a Space Corps. Trump’s blatant support of a Space Force does not make it a Republican idea.”
In her briefing on Tuesday, Psaki revived the days when Trump critics trashed the Space Force.
Also Jen Psaki: “Wow, Space Force– it’s the plane of today.” pic.twitter.com/hiadBB7ydz
— Steve Guest (@SteveGuest) February 3, 2021
Bloomberg reporter Josh Wingrove asked the perfectly acceptable question of whether Biden did, in fact, want to to keep Space Force.
“Wow, Space Force — it’s the plane of today,” Psaki replied. That referenced a question Psaki had been asked a few days earlier about the new color scheme of Air Force One.
When Wingrove maintained his question was legit, Psaki added, as she often does, “It is an interesting question. I am happy to check with our Space Force point of contact. I’m not sure who that is. I will find out and see if we have any update on that.”
Well, Republican members of Congress were happy to help.
Alabama Republican Rep. Mike Rogers said in a statement, “It’s concerning to see the Biden administration’s press secretary blatantly diminish an entire branch of our military as the punchline of a joke, which I’m sure China would find funny The Space Force was passed with near unanimous support in Congress, the same type of ‘unity’ President Biden is supposedly working towards. Jen Psaki needs to immediately apologize to the men and women of the Space Force for this disgraceful comment.”
Rogers had another reason to demand an apology. The Space Force has selected the Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Ala., as its headquarters.
Other lawmakers agreed.
Florida Rep. Mike Waltz, a former Green Beret, tweeted, “While the Biden Administration continues to think about whether or not the #CCP is a threat, China is working overtime to become the dominant force in space. We need the professionals @SpaceForceDoD to keep American’s safe.”
While the Biden Administration continues to think about whether or not the #CCP is a threat, China is working overtime to become the dominant force in space.
— Rep. Mike Waltz (@michaelgwaltz) February 2, 2021
Freshman GOP Rep. Lauren Boebert tweeted, “The Space Force is an official branch of our armed services and the Biden administration goes out and openly mocks it on television for all to see? The level of disrespect they have for those who serve is disgraceful.”
The Space Force is an official branch of our armed services and the Biden administration goes out and openly mocks it on television for all to see?
The level of disrespect they have for those who serve is disgraceful.
— Lauren Boebert (@laurenboebert) February 2, 2021
Another Florida Republican, Rep. Byron Donalds, added in a tweet: “The United States Space Force is a branch of the U.S. Armed Forces, not the butt of a joke. Press Secretary Jen Psaki, your ‘joke’ is inappropriate, and you should circle back immediately with the more than 16,000 members of the Space Force with an apology from the White House lectern.”
The @SpaceForceDoD is a branch of the U.S. Armed Forces, not the butt of a joke. @PressSec, your “joke” is inappropriate, and you should circle back immediately with the more than 16,000 members of the #SpaceForce with an apology from the White House lectern. https://t.co/cBTTlVYN3k
— Byron Donalds (@ByronDonalds) February 2, 2021
The message finally did get through.
Hours after the press briefing, Psaki tweeted: “We look forward to the continuing work of Space Force and invite the members of the team to come visit us in the briefing room anytime to share an update on their important work.”
We look forward to the continuing work of Space Force and invite the members of the team to come visit us in the briefing room anytime to share an update on their important work.
— Jen Psaki (@PressSec) February 3, 2021
Good thing that she finally circled back. It’s not exactly an apology, but, it appears to be as good as it gets.
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