White House goes silent after Biden's interview fiasco

White House goes silent after Biden’s Afghanistan interview fiasco: President schedules NO public appearances and Jen Psaki’s team fail to host daily briefings

  • Joe Biden’s interview on Wednesday night with ABC News was widely panned
  • Biden said he did not think the Afghanistan withdrawal could have been better
  • He sparked anger by stating: ‘The idea that somehow there’s a way to have gotten out without chaos ensuing, I don’t know how that happens’ 
  • He said no military advisers suggested keeping the existing 2,500 troops 
  • Biden said it was a choice between ramping up or withdrawing the U.S. forces
  • On Thursday the president held no public events and was not seen by the media
  • Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, did not hold a press briefing
  • Her predecessor Kayleigh McEnany criticized the ‘bunker’ approach 

Joe Biden on Thursday made no public appearances after a widely-panned interview in which he claimed the Afghanistan chaos was inevitable.

The president had a closed-door Afghanistan briefing, according to his schedule. 

But no public events were held following Wednesday night’s sit-down with ABC News’s George Stephanopoulos.

Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, also failed to hold a press briefing on Thursday – sparking accusations that the White House had retreated to a ‘bunker’ amid the Afghanistan chaos.

Joe Biden on Wednesday night spoke to George Stephanopoulos for an interview with ABC News. He claimed that the chaos in Afghanistan was inevitable, and defended his actions – which saw the Taliban capture Kabul on Sunday

Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, is seen on Tuesday at a press briefing. On Thursday she failed to hold a briefing, despite fast-moving events in Afghanistan

The administration sent the deputy National Security Adviser, Jonathan Finer, as their envoy to news networks, while his more senior colleagues remained out of sight.

His boss, Jake Sullivan, the National Security Adviser, has become in the eyes of many ‘the face’ of the crisis – and, amid calls for his resignation over the debacle, he was absent on Thursday.

The Pentagon did hold a press conference, with their spokesman John Kirby admitting that he did not know how many Americans remained in Afghanistan.

Ned Price, the State Department spokesman, also held his usual daily briefing.

Kayleigh McEnany, who served as Donald Trump’s White House spokesperson from April 2020 to January 2021, on Thursday took Psaki to task over her failure to hold daily briefings during the crisis.

‘Jen Psaki promised us a daily White House press briefing,’ McEnany said. 

‘There isn’t one today. There wasn’t one Monday. When the going gets tough, the daily press briefing that she promised goes out the window.’ 

Kayleigh McEnany, who served as White House press secretary from April 2020 until January 2021, and is now a Fox News host, criticized Jen Psaki for not holding a daily briefing

The Trump administration was strongly criticized for abolishing the tradition of regular briefings, and went 300 days without holding one. 

Stephanie Grisham, in her nine months on the job from July 2019 until her firing in April 2020, never held a White House press briefing – a unique and ignominious distinction.   

A crime writer, Don Winslow, said he would donate $100,000 to a children’s hospital if Grisham did a briefing – then Stephen King doubled the bounty. 

She did not take the bait and rarely conducted the smaller informal briefings known as ‘gaggles’ and almost never appeared on TV, unless it was Fox News. 

Furthermore, Trump himself held less than half as many press conferences as the previous two administrations during their first three years in office. 

Biden has only granted nine sit-down interviews in his first seven months in office, a number far below that of his Trump and Barack Obama, who held 50 interviews and 113 interviews, respectively, at this time in their presidency. 

Zabihullah Mujahid, chief spokesman for the Taliban, speaks during a press conference in Kabul on Tuesday. For years, Mujahid had been a shadowy figure issuing statements on behalf of the militants, and Tuesday’s press conference was his first

Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid answers press members questions as he holds a press conference in Kabul, Afghanistan

Pandemonium unfolded at Kabul airport on Monday as thousands of people ran on to the runway in a desperate attempt to escape Taliban rule, fearing bloody reprisals by the Islamists

A child covered in blood is carried away with his father after the Taliban used whips on the crowd trying to get in to Kabul airport on Tuesday

An Afghan woman is seen lying on the ground after the Taliban used whips and sharp objects to drive people from the airport

A man cries as he watches fellow Afghans get wounded after Taliban fighters use gunfire, whips, sticks and sharp objects to maintain crowd control over thousands of Afghans who continue to wait outside Kabul airport for a way out

McEnany said that Kirby’s failure to find out how many Americans remained in Afghanistan compounded the mistake made by Psaki in not appearing.

‘When you are a press secretary at any entity, you anticipate whatever the questions will be,’ McEnany said. 

‘One of the most obvious questions is how many Americans are on the ground. 

‘He didn’t take up the time to pick up the phone and call Secretary of State Antony Blinken and get that number for us when you are the one place we are getting information from today, when there are nearly 15,000 American hostages on the ground?

‘And the Pentagon spokesperson could not pick up the phone and Jen Psaki won’t go to the podium to give us these very basic answers we deserve.’

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