White House Press Secretary Under Fire For Mocking Military’s Space Force
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Wednesday attempted to walk back comments she made the prior day when asked about the future fate and scope of the Space Force, which Trump had established as the US military’s sixth branch in 2019.
When the subject was broached for the first time in the briefing room she appeared to laugh and mockingly said, “Wow, Space Force… it’s the plane of today,” which also seemed a failed attempt at a joke.
Also Jen Psaki: “Wow, Space Force– it’s the plane of today.” pic.twitter.com/hiadBB7ydz
— Steve Guest (@SteveGuest) February 3, 2021
Psaki added in follow-up that she had no idea who the point of contact for Space Force is, further suggesting that it’s unimportant and perhaps irrelevant to the administration.
The exchange began with the following:
“May I finally ask whether the President has made a decision on keeping or keeping the scope of Space Force?” Bloomberg’s Josh Wingrove asked Ms Psaki yesterday.
“Wow. Space Force, it’s the plane of today,” she responded, referring to when she had been asked a question about the paint job on Air Force One. The implication being that it was a question from left-field and, perhaps, a trivial one.
Wingrove told her it was an “interesting question”.
“It is an interesting question,” she said.
“It is an interesting question. I am happy to check with our Space Force point of contact,” she said when a reporter pressed the question . “I’m not sure who that is. I will find out and see if we have any update on that.”
Her mocking tone immediately provoked criticism from Republican Congressional circles, which had formally authorized the military branch in December 2019, with a projected size of 16,000 troops and initial annual budget of over $15 billion.
Republican representative Mike Waltz attacked the dismissal from Psaki as meaning the Biden administration is ready to give China free reign in militarizing space: “China is working overtime to become the dominant force in space,” he tweeted. “We need the professionals… to keep Americans safe.”
While the Biden Administration continues to think about whether or not the #CCP is a threat, China is working overtime to become the dominant force in space.
— Rep. Mike Waltz (@michaelgwaltz) February 2, 2021
Psaki attempted damage control in a tweet later Tuesday evening. “We look forward to the continuing work of Space Force and invite the members of the team to come visit us in the briefing room anytime to share an update on their important work,” she said.
Later Mike Rogers, the top Republican on the House of Representatives’ Armed Services Committee, weighed in, demanding an apology for the “disgraceful” quip:
“It’s concerning to see the Biden administration’s press secretary blatantly diminish an entire branch of our military as the punchline of a joke, which I’m sure China would find funny,” Mr Rogers said.
“Jen Psaki needs to immediately apologize to the men and women of the Space Force for this disgraceful comment.”
We look forward to the continuing work of Space Force and invite the members of the team to come visit us in the briefing room anytime to share an update on their important work.
— Jen Psaki (@PressSec) February 3, 2021
When asked during Wednesday’s briefing whether she was ready to issue an apology, she simply explained, “we invite the members of Space Force here to provide an update to all of you on all of the important work they’re doing, and we certainly look forward to seeing continued updates from their team.”
“They absolutely have the full support of the Biden administration, and we are not revisiting the decision to establish the Space Force,” while referring to the Congressional mandate.
And perhaps as expected, there was no apology to follow.
Wed, 02/03/2021 – 21:30