Both of those tendencies were on display this week when a Fox News reporter pressed her on the White House’s account of three migrants who drowned in the Rio Grande on their way to illegally enter the United States.
The Department of Justice established a narrative placing the blame on Texas, which has taken an active role in securing its own border with Mexico amid the Biden administration’s unwillingness to crack down on illegal immigration.
“It is impossible to say what might have happened if Border Patrol had had its former access to the area — including through its surveillance trucks that assisted in monitoring the area,” the agency asserted in a statement on Monday. “At the very least, however, Border Patrol would have had the opportunity to take any available steps to fulfill its responsibilities and assist its counterparts in the Mexican government with undertaking the rescue mission. Texas made that impossible.”
The Department of Homeland Security issued a similar assessment, but the DOJ subsequently acknowledged that the three individuals had already been dead for at least an hour by the time Mexican authorities informed Border Patrol agents about the incident.
On Wednesday, White House correspondent Jacqui Heinrich attempted to elicit an admission from Jean-Pierre that the administration had misled the public with those initial statements, but the press secretary would offer no such concession.
“Will the administration amend its separate statement that implied that Texas officials were responsible for the deaths of those three migrants when, in fact, they had nothing to do with it?” Heinrich asked.
TENSE: Karine Jean-Pierre starts to sweat when @JacquiHeinrich holds her feet to the fire over the administration's lies about Texas officials who — contrary to the White House's claims — were not responsible for the deaths of three illegal immigrants. pic.twitter.com/Yp4TZRCHMQ
— Townhall.com (@townhallcom) January 17, 2024
Jean-Pierre provided an inartful call for everyone involved in reporting the “devastating situation” to be “sensitive” before pointing out that the Justice Department’s filing referred to “an ongoing emergency situation the Border Patrol was blocked from accessing” and “other migrants” were in the Rio Grande at the same time.
To her credit, the Fox News correspondent did not let up, going on to point out that the “ongoing emergency situation was separate” from the three drowning deaths and read the specific portion of the DOJ statement that she referenced in her question.
True to form, Jean-Pierre continued repeating her White House-approved talking points and instructed the reporter to take any additional questions up with a Justice Department representative.