A while ago, Slow Joe Biden was caught calling Fox News’ Peter Doocy a “stupid son of a b****” in hot mic response, as you can watch here:
HOT MIC: Biden calls Peter Doocy a “Stupid Son of a B*tch” for asking a question about inflation. pic.twitter.com/q5LQIb1KpL
— Benny (@bennyjohnson) January 24, 2022
Was that inappropriate and unbecoming for the president? Yes, though such niceties matter less now that we’re in the depths of the culture war, particularly when coming from a president who’s skewered daily by Doocy.
But something that’s understandable when muttered after a press conference is far from acceptable when said openly and intentionally, as happened when White House press secretary Jen Psaki was asked about Doocy at a recent event.
Jen Psaki is asked if “Peter Doocy is a stupid son of a bitch or does he just play one on tv:”
“He works for a network that provides people with questions that, nothing personal to any individual including Peter Doocy, but might make anyone sound like a stupid son of a bitch.” pic.twitter.com/2FYMPX12Rr
— Eugene Daniels (@EugeneDaniels2) April 15, 2022
POLITICO White House Correspondent Eugene Daniels asked Psaki about Doocy on Pod Save America, saying, “Peter Doocy is a stupid son of a bitch, or does he just play one on TV?”
Psaki, rather than tone down tensions and not openly attack Peter Doocy in a vicious way, decided to jump aboard Biden’s rhetoric and said:
“He works for a network that provides people with questions that, nothing personal to any individual including Peter Doocy, but might make anyone sound like a stupid son of a bitch.”
That’s rude enough, but not even the worst part of her response. The worst part, for her at least, is that her response might have been illegal and certainly raises watchdog eyebrows. Mediate reported on that, saying:
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki appeared on a live recording of Pod Save America Thursday night and did not demur in criticizing the Fox News network. But given that she is a government employee, who is reportedly set to soon exit for a gig at rival network MSNBC, how is this in any way acceptable? Short answer: it’s not.
[…]The bottom line is that Jen Psaki is a government employee who is openly criticizing a media outlet that is the competitor of her future employer. If Psaki has a “handshake deal” to join NBC after she officially leaves the briefing room podium, then she should reasonably be far more circumspect in not just her future briefings, but in any public appearance in which she is asked about competitors of her future employer.
Government employees aren’t allowed to use their positions and power to enrich themselves or their friends. Some do it, sure, but it’s illegal regardless. As the Justice Department puts it on its “misuse of position and government resources” page:An employee may not use his public office for his own private gain or for that of persons or organizations with which he is associated personally. An employee’s position or title should not be used to coerce; to endorse any product, service or enterprise; or to give the appearance of governmental sanction. An employee may use his official title and stationery only in response to a request for a reference or recommendation for someone he has dealt with in Federal employment or someone he is recommending for Federal employment.
In attacking questions asked by Fox News and its White House correspondent, was Psaki not breaking the law? How does her conduct not fit what’s prohibited by that part of the US code (5 C.F.R. § 2635.702 )?
Perhaps Psaki has a reason why she thinks using her position to attack Fox when she has a personal relationship with MSNBC, where she’ll be headed after leaving the White House, but it doesn’t seem like it.
It’d be one thing if she were just the press secretary and wasn’t planning on leaving; then she’d just be making fun of a network, not potentially helping her future employer. But that’s not the case. She is planning on leaving, and soon.
That makes her comment potentially illegal. She needs to be investigated and held to account.