A White House communications official frustrated CNN anchor John Berman on Wednesday by evading questions about Joe Biden’s plan for reopening schools.
The moment: Berman interviewed Symone Sanders, Vice President Kamala Harris’ chief spokesperson, about the details of the president’s plan to have five-day-a-week in-person instruction in public schools by the end of his first 100 days.
- Sanders repeatedly declined to give a straight answer to Berman’s question about whether it was “necessary” for teachers to be vaccinated against the coronavirus before returning to the classroom.
- “Prioritize is one thing, and I think there’s wide agreement they should be prioritized — and why not?” a visibly exasperated Berman said.”Is it necessary, though? That’s the question. And it’s really a yes or no question.”
- “I don’t understand why it’s a hard question to answer,” he added after Sanders attempted to shift the conversation from teachers to safety for students.
- “I’ll try one last time,” Berman asked after Sanders again said the administration’s intention was to prioritize teachers’ vaccinations. “Does the president feel that teachers have to be vaccinated in order for schools to open safely? Yes or no.”
Sanders repeated that teachers would be prioritized.
The White House confirmed on Wednesday that it did not think teacher vaccinations are a requirement.
The fourth estate: Conservative critics have accused the Biden administration of dodging reporters’ concrete policy questions.
- White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki has been singled out in particular for answering questions with progressive talking points and saying she will “circle back” rather than responding to queries on the spot.
- Nevertheless, the Biden White House has been widely praised in the mainstream press for restoring “normalcy” in the wake of Donald Trump’s Twitter-centric, media-bashing presidency.