State Department Spox Accusing AP Reporter of Using Russian Talking Points Showcases the Biden White House Answer for All Bad Press Coverage

State Department Photo by Ron Przysucha

There is an old joke in the British army about a cavalry officer who was so stupid that even the horses had begun to take notice. That may be starting to happen with the White House Press Corps.

On Thursday at the State Department briefing, we were privileged to witness an event that takes place all too rarely in Washington. A reporter actually called bullish** on the narrative the Biden White House is trying to push and left the gooberish State Department spokesman Ned Price looking like more of a goober than we all thought he was.

Back on January 14, the Biden White House was pushing the narrative that a Russian invasion of Ukraine was “imminent.” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby alleged that Russia was plotting a “false flag” operation as cover for an invasion of Ukraine without any basis in fact. This is from CNN, but most of the media dutifully transcribed Kirby’s allegation and published it as though it were fact.

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said the Defense Department has credible information indicating Russia has “prepositioned a group of operatives” to execute “an operation designed to look like an attack on them or Russian-speaking people in Ukraine” in order to create a reason for a potential invasion.

Of course, the problem with the story is that John Kirby’s assertion that something will happen is literally not proof that something has happened or is about to happen. At no point was any documentary evidence proffered that would indicate that Kirby’s charge was anything more than the Biden White House escalating a manageable conflict in Ukraine into something entirely different (for my view on the White House agenda in Ukraine, read Why Today’s Austin-Milley Press Conference Convinces Me That Joe Biden Wants Conflict With Russia in Ukraine),

Yesterday, Ned Price trotted out the exact same allegation and ran into a buzzsaw (Sparks Fly in Must-See Exchange After Reporter Presses White House on ‘False Flag’ Claims). When Price claims his word is all the proof that is needed, AP’s diplomatic correspondent Matthew Lee goes rabid Rottweiler on him.

(Lee’s questioning and Price’s sniveling runs until 6:42, it is worth watching.)

Transcript

MR PRICE: Good afternoon. We have previously noted our strong concerns regarding Russian disinformation and the likelihood that Moscow might create – seek to create a false flag operation to initiate military activity. Now, we can say that the United States has information that Russia is planning to stage fabricated attacks by Ukrainian military or intelligence forces as a pretext for a further invasion of Ukraine.

One possible option the Russians are considering, and which we made public today, involves the production of a propaganda video – a video with graphic scenes of false explosions – depicting corpses, crisis actors pretending to be mourners, and images of destroyed locations or military equipment – entirely fabricated by Russian intelligence.

To be clear, the production of this propaganda video is one of a number of options that the Russian Government is developing as a fake pretext to initiate and potentially justify military aggression against Ukraine. We don’t know if Russia will necessarily use this or another option in the coming days. We are publicizing it now, however, in order to lay bare the extent of Russia’s destabilizing actions towards Ukraine and to dissuade Russia from continuing this dangerous campaign and ultimately launching a military attack.

Russia has signaled it’s willing to continue diplomatic talks as a means to de-escalate, but actions such as these suggest otherwise. We will continue to diligently work together with our allies and partners to expose Russian disinformation and other hybrid tactics used against Ukraine. We continue to work to prevent any effort Moscow might make to justify further military action in Ukraine. We again urge Russia to stop its destructive and destabilizing disinformation campaign, to de-escalate tensions, and to engage in diplomacy and dialogue for a peaceful solution.

Thank you.

QUESTION: Thanks. Okay, well, that’s quite a mouthful there. So you said “actions such as these suggest otherwise” – suggest meaning that they suggest they’re not interested in talks and they’re going to go ahead with some kind of a – what action are you talking about?

MR PRICE: One, the actions I have just pointed to, the fact –

QUESTION: What action? What —

MR PRICE: The fact that Russia continues to engage in disinformation campaigns.

QUESTION: Well no, you’ve made an allegation that they might do that. Have they actually done it?

MR PRICE: What we know, Matt, is what we – what I have just said, that they have engaged in this activity, in this planning activity —

QUESTION: Well, engage in what – hold on a second. What activity?

MR PRICE: But let me – let me – because obviously this is not – this is not the first time we’ve made these reports public. You’ll remember that just a few weeks ago –

QUESTION: I’m sorry, made what report public?

MR PRICE: If you let me finish, I will tell you what report we made public.

QUESTION: Okay.

MR PRICE: We told you a few weeks ago that we have information indicating Russia also has already pre-positioned a group of operatives to conduct a false flag operation in eastern Ukraine. So that, Matt, to your question, is an action that Russia has already taken.

QUESTION: No, it’s an action that you say that they have taken, but you have shown no evidence to confirm that. And I’m going to get to the next question here, which is: What is the evidence that they – I mean, this is – like, crisis actors? Really? This is like Alex Jones territory you’re getting into now. What evidence do you have to support the idea that there is some propaganda film in the making?

MR PRICE: Matt, this is derived from information known to the U.S. Government, intelligence information that we have declassified. I think you know —

QUESTION: Okay, well, where is it? Where is this information?

MR PRICE: It is intelligence information that we have declassified.

QUESTION: Well, where is it? Where is the declassified information?

MR PRICE: I just delivered it.

QUESTION: No, you made a series of allegations and statements —

MR PRICE: Would you like us to print out the topper? Because you will see a transcript of this briefing that you can print out for yourself.

QUESTION: But that’s not evidence, Ned. That’s you saying it. That’s not evidence. I’m sorry.

MR PRICE: What would you like, Matt?

QUESTION: I would like to see some proof that you – that you can show that —

MR PRICE: Matt, you have been —

QUESTION: — that shows that the Russians are doing this.

MR PRICE: You —

QUESTION: Ned, I’ve been doing this for a long time, as you know.

MR PRICE: I know. That was my point. You have been doing this for quite a while.

QUESTION: I have.

MR PRICE: You know that when we declassify intelligence, we do so in a means —

QUESTION: That’s right. And I remember WMDs in Iraq, and I —

MR PRICE: — we do so with an eye to protecting sources and methods.

QUESTION: And I remember that Kabul was not going to fall. I remember a lot of things. So where is the declassified information other than you coming out here and saying it?

MR PRICE: Matt, I’m sorry you don’t like the format, but we have —

QUESTION: It’s not the format. It’s the content.

MR PRICE: I’m sorry you don’t like the content. I’m sorry you —

QUESTION: It’s not that I don’t like it or —

MR PRICE: I’m sorry you are doubting the information that is in the possession of the U.S. Government.

QUESTION: No, I —

MR PRICE: What I’m telling you is that this is information that’s available to us. We are making it available to you in order – for a couple reasons. One is to attempt to deter the Russians from going ahead with this activity. Two, in the event we’re not able to do that, in the event the Russians do go ahead with this, to make it clear as day, to lay bare the fact that this has always been an attempt on the part of the Russian Federation to fabricate a pretext.

QUESTION: Yes, but you don’t have any evidence to back it up other than what you’re saying. It’s like you’re saying, “We think – we have information the Russians may do this,” but you won’t tell us what the information is. And then when you’re asked —

MR PRICE: Well, that is the idea behind deterrence, Matt. That is the idea behind deterrence.

QUESTION: When you’re asked – and when you’re asked —

MR PRICE: It is our hope that the Russians don’t go forward with this.

QUESTION: And when you’re asked what the information is, you say, “I just gave it to you.” But that’s not what —

MR PRICE: You seem not to understand —

QUESTION: That’s not the way it works.

MR PRICE: You seem not to understand the idea of deterrence.

QUESTION: No, no, no, Ned. You don’t – you seem not to understand the idea of —

MR PRICE: We are trying to deter the Russians from moving forward with this type of activity. That is why we are making it public today. If the Russians don’t go forward with this, that is not ipso facto an indication that they never had plans to do so.

QUESTION: But then it’s unprovable. I mean, my God, what is the evidence that you have that suggests that the Russians are even planning this?

MR PRICE: Matt, you —

QUESTION: I mean, I’m not saying that they’re not. But you just come out and say this and expect us just to believe it without you showing a shred of evidence that it’s actually true – other than when I ask or when anyone else asks what’s the information, you said, well, I just gave it to you, which was just you making a statement.

MR PRICE: Matt, you said yourself you’ve been in this business for quite a long time. You know that when we make information – intelligence information public we do so in a way that protects sensitive sources and methods. You also know that we do so – we declassify information – only when we’re confident in that information.

QUESTION: But Ned, you haven’t given any information.

MR PRICE: If you doubt – if you doubt the credibility of the U.S. Government, of the British Government, of other governments, and want to find solace in information that the Russians are putting out —

QUESTION: Solace?

MR PRICE: — that is for you to do.

QUESTION: I don’t want – I’m not asking what the Russian Government is putting out. And what do you – what is that supposed to mean?

It is a pretty amazing performance. Price is asked to provide some evidence that the allegations are true. He either can’t or won’t. He then claims the US Government’s word is good enough for anyone…it isn’t as the “righteous [drone] strike” that smoked a family of 10 in Afghanistan should remind us. When Lee doesn’t back down, Price is reduced to claiming he prefers Russian propaganda to the Truth of the US Government.

MR PRICE: If you doubt – if you doubt the credibility of the U.S. Government, of the British Government, of other governments, and want to find solace in information that the Russians are putting out —

QUESTION: Solace?

MR PRICE: — that is for you to do.

QUESTION: I don’t want – I’m not asking what the Russian Government is putting out. And what do you – what is that supposed to mean?

The performance was shameful enough that even CNN detached itself from Joe Biden’s posterior and complained.

Though, as Sister Toldjah observes, CNN has been using the same exact attack on Tucker Carlson for weeks, CNN Manages to Undercut Their ‘Tucker Carlson Is a Putin Puppet’ Case in Record Time.

This has all turned into an immense problem for the White House as it serves as an indicator of a communications staff that has no answer to anything but a) trust us and b) if you don’t trust us, you are a Russian stooge.

When it comes to matters of war, the Biden administration’s current stance is “trust us” — and if you disagree, you’re Vladimir Putin’s or ISIS’ talking puppet.

Thursday should have been a blemish-free day for the Biden administration to tout a couple rare wins in the contested national security and intelligence arenas — the death of ISIS leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi and the “discovery” of a Russian disinformation plot in Ukraine. But instead it bumbled the message, raised the hackles of a skeptical press, and bullied the conversation into a Bush-era “you’re either with or against us” false dichotomy.

Politico points out more examples of this behavior.

When Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) suggested Wednesday that the U.S. shouldn’t offer Ukraine membership in NATO and should focus more on China, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said he was “digesting Russian misinformation and parroting Russian talking points.”

Then Thursday, NPR’s Ayesha Rascoe asked Psaki if the U.S. could provide evidence supporting President Joe Biden’s statement that al-Qurayshi detonated a suicide bomb and killed civilians during the U.S. military raid “[b]ecause there may be people that are skeptical of the events.”

“Skeptical of the U.S. military’s assessment when they went and took out … the leader of ISIS? That they are not providing accurate information and ISIS is providing accurate information?” Psaki responded, not-so-subtly implying that questioning the administration’s readout of the raid means someone believes ISIS is a more truthful actor. Psaki then did go on to address Rascoe’s question, reiterating “that the individual who was the target detonated himself, killing his entire family,” though she didn’t offer any additional evidence beyond the administration’s repeated statements.

The only way the Biden White House survives is because the press corps are political allies. They are compliant and subservient. They are incapable of showing any intellectual curiosity that might endanger the Biden-Harris regime or its supporting narrative of lies. When it gets to the point where they are accusing their media allies of parroting Russian talking points, the odor of flop sweat has begun to fill the arena.