Jen Psaki Gets Really Testy When Pushed on Hiding Breakthrough COVID Infections

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki isn’t used to tough questions, and when she gets them, she often responds with snark while perched atop her unearned high-horse. That happened again today, but I don’t think she got the better end of the exchange.

Some intrepid reporter — who will probably be put on a naughty list now — decided to press Psaki on why the administration is refusing to release the number of people infected with COVID within the White House. That outbreak appears to be largely a result of Texas Democrats who fled their state to stop a voting integrity bill only to cause a super-spreader event in Washington, D.C.

Here was Psaki’s testy response today.

Siri: Show me something that would have been a two-week news cycle if it happened during the Trump administration.

To recap, we have multiple breakthrough infections of COVID within the White House, presumably of vaccinated individuals, and Psaki claims that the American people don’t need to know how many cases there are. Her excuse for the different standard Democrats applied to the Trump White House when questions of an outbreak back in 2020 occurred is that things are “different” now. Well, that’s that then, right?

To her credit, the reporter does follow-up, though, to no avail. Psaki instead deflects to CDC data on breakthrough cases throughout the country. That obviously provides no information regarding the White House and was simply an attempt to change the subject. Psaki’s hostile tone throughout the exchange exhibits her frustration that she’s even being confronted at all on an issue Democrats criticized Trump over, i.e. a supposed lack of transparency about testing and infections in the White House.

So what exactly are Biden and his administration hiding here? It would seem rather mundane to just say “we have 15 breakthrough cases” currently. That leads me to believe the number is likely astronomical, to the point where they feel providing the real number would undercut their vaccine messaging. But that’s ultimately a problem of their own making.

As I’ve said before, the best way to message on the vaccine is to just be honest. Be honest about what it does and doesn’t do, how effective it truly is, and who really needs to get it. Any fluffing of the vaccine past that will only lead to distrust, and that’s what we are seeing now with all these breakthrough cases undermining the credibility of the vaccine. Infection numbers never should have been a barometer in the first place. Rather, outcomes should have been, and the vaccine does protect against serious illness and death (though, nothing is full-proof).

Yet, Democrats want to be able to scream about cases in relation to Florida, for example, so that leaves their messaging scattered. If cases matter, then what’s going on in the White House matters. Psaki is doing herself and the administration no favors by being secretive here. The real numbers will come out, and when they do, they are likely to be more embarrassing than if the White House had just been honest from the start.