White House press secretary Jen Psaki got into a dust-up with a reporter Monday over the press’ lack of access into child migrant detention facilities.
At the end of Monday’s press briefing, a reporter noted that “journalists have not been allowed to see what’s happening inside” some of these facilities. There’s been a surge of unaccompanied minors crossing the border since President Joe Biden took office and internal documents indicate that it’s quickly overwhelming the current administration.
The Biden administration confirmed that members of the media cannot visit facilities holding minors near the southern border and cited the COVID-19 pandemic in a previous statement to the Daily Caller News Foundation.
One reporter inquired about more transparency regarding the situation during the press briefing, prompting a back-and-forth with Psaki.
“I want to clarify – you said that a policy discussion behind the scenes with the president and this delegation is private. I just want to clarify … I’m not asking for a detailed readout on a private conversation that’s happening in the Oval Office between the president and this delegation. Journalists have not been allowed to see what’s happening inside places …,” the reporter began to note before Psaki interrupted.
Psaki said she “understand[s]” and tried to clarify her earlier comment. The press secretary said she meant to express that reporters shouldn’t expect “a readout of” a “private conversation.”
The reporter continued to press Psaki, wondering whether the press will be able to learn about what, exactly is going on inside the facilities.
“Will we be able to get a readout on what these children, whom we’ve not been able to speak to ourselves, are saying to the delegation of 14 members that went on the conditions that they’re being held in? Or if not a readout on this conversation on what these kids told the people … can we get in ourselves?” she wondered.
Psaki said the administration is “very open to … providing access to these facilities” before doubling down on the stance that reporters will not yet be allowed inside. She said the access must be done “in a way that protects the privacy of” minor children and that safety due to COVID-19 should also be kept in mind.
“We are committed to doing that,” Psaki said. “So we’re not expecting you to take our word for it. I was just conveying that any private policy conversation, I just didn’t want there to be an expectation every day that we’d be reading that out.”
Psaki continued on to promise that this “will be an ongoing discussion” but didn’t directly respond to the reporter’s question before ending the briefing.
Previously, she has blown off criticism of the detention facilities and avoided referring to the situation as a crisis. (RELATED: Jen Psaki Avoids Saying There Is ‘A Crisis’ At The Border: ‘I Don’t Think We Need To Meet Your Bar Of What We Need To Call It’)