Media Rushes to Defend Biden Press Sec. Jen Psaki Over Hammer and Sickle Hat
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Over the weekend, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his vice presidential running mate Kamala Harris announced an all-female senior White House comms team, which predictably lead to much swooning and swaying from the usual suspects in the mainstream media.
In their announcement, Biden and Harris claimed that it was the first time in history that “these communications roles will be filled entirely by women.” As White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany pointed out, it wasn’t true, but the media ran with it anyway because, of course, they did.
In any event, among those named to the senior White House comms team was Jen Psaki, who will fill the press secretary role (assuming Biden and Harris are certified as the winners next month). Ms. Psaki is an alum of the Obama-Biden administration, where she was the comms director for the last two years of Obama’s presidency. Before that, Psaki served in various press secretary roles under President Obama, including a spokesperson for the State Dept.
Psaki’s time as a State Dept. spokesperson has come under scrutiny from Republicans, particularly related to a 2014 photo of Psaki wearing a hammer and sickle fur hat.
Trump campaign deputy comms director Matt Wolking tweeted out the photo on Sunday:
Here’s Jen Psaki hugging Russia's Foreign Minister and Russia’s chief foreign affairs propagandist while wearing a pink hammer and sickle hat pic.twitter.com/WMJytaxd7J
— Matt Wolking (@MattWolking) November 30, 2020
Yes, it’s the hammer and sickle pic.twitter.com/sniIGMNX61
— Matt Wolking (@MattWolking) December 1, 2020
Psaki originally posted the photo to the official State Dept. spokesperson Twitter account on Jan. 13, 2014:
I mean, she thanked them pic.twitter.com/wX4v7CUrrE
— Billionaire Chimp (@ChimpWithMoney) December 2, 2020
Just to confirm it was a real tweet, here’s an old-style retweet of it from the official archived account of Obama’s then-deputy national security advisor Ben Rhodes:
— Ben Rhodes -Archived (@rhodes44) January 13, 2014
Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Twitter account also tweeted out a similar photo at the time:
— MFA Russia 🇷🇺 (@mfa_russia) January 13, 2014
Psaki snidely responded to Wolking, and others’ criticism by tagging failed 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in a tweet as an example of a supposed victim of Russian propaganda efforts. She then proceeded to allege that people spreading the photo were “puppets of the propaganda machine”:
For anyone who hasn't been the target of Russian propaganda (cc: @McFaul @HillaryClinton) the purpose is to discredit powerful messengers and to spread misinformation to confuse the public. Anyone who repeats it is (unwitting or not) simply a puppet of the propaganda machine.
— Jen Psaki (@jrpsaki) December 1, 2020
Her comment understandably did not go over well with some folks, including our own Prof. Jacobson:
Russian propaganda is the Steele Dossier used by Democrats and the media. That photo of you wearing a commie hat is just a photo of you wearing a commie hat. https://t.co/CcXawMr52I
— Legal Insurrection (@LegInsurrection) December 2, 2020
Wearing a Russian hat displaying the Soviet Hammer and Sickle just weeks before Putin invaded Ukraine is playing directly into Moscow's propaganda machine. https://t.co/ZaFWmmZ7oV
— Nile Gardiner (@NileGardiner) December 2, 2020
"If you criticize me you're Putin's puppet" is a hell of a great start for Biden's spox. https://t.co/B934YrPxvC
— Larry O'Connor (@LarryOConnor) December 2, 2020
You put the pink hammer & sickle hat on. If your argument is that you were duped into wearing it by the Russians so that they could exploit you as a useful idiot for propaganda purposes … Yeah, agreed. And that's the problem. You let that happen. https://t.co/OzoxTXceHt
— Jerry Christmas, B.A. (@JerryDunleavy) December 2, 2020
You wore the hat, Jen. You didn’t have to. Saying you wore the hat is not misinformation. It’s a fact. This is gaslighting, at best. You may want to reasses who here was a stooge. https://t.co/QzNn9swtMe
— Courtney Shadegg (@CShadegg) December 2, 2020
Not surprisingly, some in the media rushed to Psaki’s defense, including the USA Today, which published a ridiculous “fact check” proclaiming that the picture was “missing context”:
The claim: A photo shows Jen Psaki, Joe Biden's pick for press secretary, wearing a hammer and sickle hat while posing with officials from Russia.
Our ruling: Missing context https://t.co/r36VAwWZWV
— USA TODAY Politics (@usatodayDC) December 1, 2020
From their “fact check“:
Jen Psaki, recently named White House press secretary for President-elect Joe Biden, is seen in a 2014 photo posing with the Russian foreign minister and his spokesperson, along with then-Secretary of State John Kerry. She is wearing a pink hat with a hammer and sickle emblem, which was a gift from the Russians that she returned. At the time, Psaki was spokesperson for the U.S. State Department. The image is real, but claims that the hat was anything more a gift or that Psaki was with Russian officials in any capacity beyond her official role are MISSING CONTEXT.
Others were quick to fact check their fact check with some of their own:
This is not a "fact check."
USA Today is engaged in partisan editorializing to spin a damning photo of a Democrat.
Jen Psaki was photographed wearing a hammer & sickle hat.
Claiming there is "missing context" while in effect criticizing conservatives doesn't change that. https://t.co/DZEBaG9Rcu
— Steve Guest (@SteveGuest) December 1, 2020
Claim: "Fact-checkers" are nothing but spin machine shills for Democrats.
Ruling: True. https://t.co/4c4lklXTuW
— Doug Powers (@ThePowersThatBe) December 2, 2020
"A photo of a woman doing exactly what is described needs more context, but Trump's campaign using America's national bird on a t-shirt is definitely Nazi symbolism."
— Fuzzy Chimp (@fuzzychimpcom) December 2, 2020
My ruling: You're useless hacks. https://t.co/QykYlTlNLL
— Physics Geek (@physicsgeek) December 2, 2020
It’s all rather ironic considering all that Democrats and the media have tried to pull over the last four years with President Trump and the bogus “Russia collusion” hoax.
Breitbart provided a timely reminder Tuesday that this is not the first time “Obama officials raised eyebrows regarding Russian symbols”:
It’s not the first time that Obama officials raised eyebrows regarding Russian symbols. Former White House press secretary Jay Carney was mocked in 2014 after posters of Soviet propaganda were spotted in his home.
Move along, nothing to see here … right?
— Stacey Matthews has also written under the pseudonym “Sister Toldjah” and can be reached via Twitter. —DONATE
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