Jen Psaki: Professional gaslighter on defunding the police

Politics is the only area of American life in which “spinning” the news – attempting to control public opinion by giving a biased (and sometimes outright false) account of events – is not only accepted but celebrated. 

Many of us in this business love spin, particularly when it pushes a narrative that supports our own worldview. 

One recent example came from White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, who tried to spin the American Rescue Plan – the $1.9 trillion coronavirus rescue package – as a piece of crime-fighting legislation and Republicans as the party that supports defunding the police. 

Psaki claimed in a press conference that President Biden championed the American Rescue Plan because it “could help ensure local cops were kept on the beat in communities across the country.”

“As you know,” she added, “[it] didn’t receive a single Republican vote. That funding has been used to keep cops on the beat.” 

So, if you’re following along, the American Rescue Plan was actually about keeping local cops on the beat. Which is odd, because not once during three of Biden’s biggest speeches did he talk about crime or the need to keep cops on the beat.

At the Democratic National Convention in August 2020, Biden didn’t say the word “police” or “crime” even once. At his inauguration speech in January 2021, Biden didn’t say the word “police” or “crime” even once.  

During his first address to a joint session of Congress, Biden did once utter the word “police” but it had nothing to do with putting more cops on the beat. 

And that was the extent of it. 

As for “crime,” the word came up three times during the joint session. It had nothing to do with skyrocketing violent crime rates but instead was mentioned in relation to hate crimes and homemade handguns. 

Here’s how bad things are: In New York, murders are up nearly 50 percent compared to this point in (pre-pandemic) 2019. In Atlanta, the murder rate is up 60 percent from last year. Chicago has recorded more than 1,900 shootings, a 53 percent increase over 2019. In Portland, murders are up 800 percent. Seattle is seeing its highest homicide rate in 26 years.  

And over the holiday weekend, at least 150 people were shot and killed during more than 400 shootings across this country. 

Those are just a few examples. But all have a common thread: These cities are all run by Democratic mayors. 

This recent New York Times headline sums up the overall situation: “With Homicides Rising, Cities Brace for a Violent Summer; Homicide rates in large cities were up more than 30 percent on average last year, and up another 24 percent for the beginning of this year, according to criminologists.”

As for keeping cops on the beat, someone should ask Psaki why police retirements are up 45 percent, while resignations are up 18 percent this year nationwide. 

How could this be happening if the American Rescue Plan passed and was signed by the president? 

Ah, that’s right: Police funding largely comes from the local level, not the federal one. And when many in the political media portray police as the bad guys, even as racists, and when the president talks about “systemic racism in our criminal justice system” while talking about “police reform” in the name of George Floyd without acknowledging that American cities are under siege, it makes his press secretary’s argument — that skyrocketing violent crime is the GOP’s fault — as sad as it is laughable. 

Psaki’s spin-to-end-all-spins isn’t working in the court of public opinion, either. 

A new poll from ABC News and The Washington Post shows just 38 percent of Americans approve of Biden’s response to rapidly rising crime. 

Like the border crisis, the crime crisis is a problem for which this administration seems to have no real answers.

Add rising crime rates with rising inflation, and Democrats don’t have much to run on in 2022. As it stands now, 2022 is starting to look much like 2010, during the first Obama-Biden midterm, which resulted in a red wave loss of 63 seats for Democrats in the House of Representatives. 

And all the spin from the White House and its lead gaslighter ain’t gonna change that. 

Joe Concha is a media and politics columnist for The Hill. 

Tags American Rescue Plan crime wave defund the police Jen Psaki Joe Biden Law enforcement

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