Psaki shrugs off crime fears, coverage as part of ‘alternate universe’

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Psaki shrugs off crime fears, coverage as part of 'alternate universe'

White House press secretary Jen Psaki brushed off concerns about liberal cities’ soft-on-crime policies last week, joking on a left-leaning podcast that media coverage of violence in major cities like New York came from an “alternate universe.”

Psaki made the crack in an appearance on the Jan. 25 edition of “Pod Save America,” which is hosted by former Obama White House aides Jon Favreau, Daniel Pfeiffer, Jon Lovett and Tommy Vietor.

During her interview, Psaki read the chyrons of various cable news shows off the TVs in what appeared to be her White House office.

“CNN [is saying] ‘Pentagon: As many as 8,500 US troops on heightened alert.’ OK, true,” the press secretary said. “Same on MSNBC. CNBC is doing their own thing about the market.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that media coverage of crime in cities comes from an "alternate universe."
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that media coverage of crime in cities comes from an “alternate universe.”
Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

“And then, on Fox is [‘The Five’ co-host] Jeanine Pirro taking about ‘soft-on-crime consequences,’” Psaki went on. “I mean, what does that even mean, right? So, there’s just an alternate universe on some coverage. What’s scary about it is, a lot of people watch that.

“They think that the president isn’t doing anything to address people’s safety in New York and that couldn’t be further from the truth,” she added.

A video clip of Psaki’s remarks was tweeted out Sunday night by the GOP’s @RNCResearch account.

On Monday, the press secretary drew a rebuke from the head of the national president of the Fraternal Order of Police, who called her comments “very wrong.”

“She [Psaki] may feel safe in the White House, one of the most protected buildings in the United States, but not everyone feels safe in their workplace,” Patrick Yoes said in a statement. “The world we find ourselves in is dangerous and is becoming increasingly more so. Tens of thousands of people have been the victims of crime this month alone and some of them never made it back home.

“There are many reasons for this escalating violence in many of our communities, and one of them is agenda-driven prosecutors who have gone rogue,” Yoes added. “Many of them are refusing to bring charges against so-called ‘low-level’ or ‘nonviolent’ offenders. Under their leadership, which has been abhorrent in many cases, many violent offenders don’t stay in jail—they’re back on the streets and free to commit more crimes. That is the universe in which I, and millions of Americans, live in.”

Psaki said claims that President Biden isn't doing anything for the safety of New Yorkers "couldn't be further from the truth."
Psaki said claims that President Biden isn’t doing anything for the safety of New Yorkers “couldn’t be further from the truth.”
Christopher Sadowski
Psaki said addressing crime is at the "root of the President's agenda."
Psaki said addressing crime is at the “root of the President’s agenda.”
AP Photo/Alex Brandon

“Pretending violent crimes are part of some other reality will not help victims,” Yoes concluded. “Ms. Psaki owes them an apology.”

On Monday, Fox News correspondent Jacqui Heinrich pressed Psaki about her comment.

“Were you speaking in your personal opinion or is that at all a reflection of the priorities of this administration?” Heinrich asked during a White House briefing. “Because the criticism is that it would reflect that crime is not a priority of this administration.”

“I encourage anyone to listen to the full context of the interview in the conversation,” Psaki began. “What I was speaking to was a chyron on Fox News, since you raised it, which suggested this administration is soft on crime with no basis.” 

The press secretary then cited the American Rescue Plan, the $1.9 trillion stimulus that was enacted in March of last year and passed Congress without a single Republican vote.

“There was additional funding to support local COPS [Community Oriented Policing Services] programs, something that every single Republican voted against. I said in that interview that I know they don’t like you when we call that out. I’m gonna keep calling that out, because that’s a fact,” Psaki said.

“Also, President Biden has proposed a significant increase in funding for local COPS programs in his budget, more than the prior president. That’s a fact,” Psaki went on. “So if those facts are uncomfortable, I’m sorry for people who feel they need to be critical, but the president has been a longtime advocate of addressing crime. He’s never been for defunding the police. Our Department of Justice has increased funding, has put in place support for strike forces, and the other fact that is never talked about in these Fox packages … is the fact that gun crime is a major driver of crime across the country, also a fact.

“So those are pieces, I think in that moment, I was speaking to and, again, we’re about the facts here and addressing crime is something that is a root of the President’s agenda,” she finished.

New York, like other major cities in the US, has been hit with a rise in crime in recent months. Last year, the city saw a 4 percent increase in murders.

Biden will be traveling to the city on Thursday to meet with Mayor Eric Adams to discuss anti-gun crime strategies nearly two weeks after rookie NYPD officer Jason Rivera, 22, was killed while responding to a domestic violence call at an apartment in Harlem. His partner, Officer Wilbert Mora, 27, was critically wounded and died Tuesday after undergoing two surgeries. 

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