Sunday 24 January 2021




As StewGreen notes, at her first press conference Fox News's Peter Doocy asked Jen Psaki tougher questions than Jon Sopel:

Peter Doocy: Why wasn’t President Biden and all members of the Biden family masked at all times last night if he signed an executive order that mandates masks on federal lands at all times?

Jen Psaki: I think, Steve, he was celebrating an evening — a historic day in our country. And certainly he signed the mask mandate because it’s a way to send a message to the American public about the importance of wearing masks, how it can save tens of thousands of lives. We take a number of Covid precautions, as you know here, in terms of testing, social distancing, mask-wearing ourselves as we do every single day, but I don't know I have more for you on it other than that. 

Peter Doocy: As Joe Biden often talks about, it is not just important the example of power but the power of our example, was that a good example for people watching who might not pay attention normally?

Jen Psaki: Well, Steve, I think the power of his example is also the message he sends by signing 25 executive orders — including almost half of them related to Covid. The requirements that we’re all under every day here to ensure that we’re sending that message to the public. Yesterday was a historic moment in our history. He was inaugurated as President of the United States. He was surrounded by his family. We take a number of precautions, but I think we have bigger issues to worry about at this moment in time. 

(In your were wondering, Peter Doocy's dad, a Fox anchor, is called Steve. Jen Psaki was mixing them up).  

On that theme, Jon Sopel kept calling Wednesday's inauguration "a socially distanced inauguration for a nation tearing itself apart", but I was puzzled by all the hugging going on at the inauguration and the fact that no one on the BBC was commenting on it. 

Before going back inside the Capitol building, for example, I saw Kamala Harris hug both Barack and Michelle Obama. She then leaned in to talk to someone in the military while keeping her face very close to his. And then - ironically at exactly the moment Jon Sopel started talking again once more about how "socially distanced" it all was - she hugged another couple (at some length). She then gave a man a hug, and then hugged two more women as she walked up the stairs. And that was only the bits when she was being viewed by the cameras. She probably hugged more. 

Was the new VP acting as a super-spreader then? No one seems unduly bothered. Indeed, as Jen Psaki, might say, Kamala Harris was celebrating a historic day and they have bigger issues to worry about. Maybe.

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