Biden came under fire during 2020 campaign for helping author ‘tough on crime’ laws as senator
White House press secretary spars with reporter on question of president’s ‘culpability’ in injustice
White House press secretary Jen Psaki had an uncomfortable exchange with a reporter Wednesday after he asked whether President Biden “acknowledges his own role” in what the president described as “systemic racism” in America.
During his address to the nation Tuesday evening following the conviction of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, Biden said George Floyd‘s death, which he called “murder in full light of day,” had “ripped the blinders off for the whole world to see the systemic racism in the United States.”
At Wednesday’s briefing, New York Post reporter Steve Nelson confronted Psaki about whether the president contributed to “systemic racism” during his decades-long tenure in the Senate.
“[Biden is] an architect of multiple federal laws in the 1980s and ’90s that disproportionately jailed Black people and contributed to what many people see as systemic racism,” Nelson said. “Activist Cornel West said that Biden was one of the core architects of mass incarceration and that, ‘I think Biden is going to have to take responsibility and acknowledge the contribution he made to mass incarceration.’ To what extent does President Biden acknowledge his own role in systemic racism? And how does that inform his current policy positions?”
“Well,” Psaki responded, “I would say one of the president’s core objectives is addressing racial injustice in this country, not just through his rhetoric, but through his actions, and what anyone should look to [is] his advocacy for passing the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, for nominating leaders to the Department of Justice, to address long-outdated policies and to ask his leadership team here in the White House to prioritize these issues in his presidency, which is current and today and not from 30 years ago.”
Nelson followed up by asking Psaki whether Biden believes “it’s important to accept his own culpability” for perpetuating systemic racism.
“I think I’ve answered your question,” Psaki dismissed Nelson before moving on to the next reporter.
Joseph A. Wulfsohn is a media reporter for Fox News. Follow him on Twitter