CLAIM: Biden is not a hypocrite for his newly-imposed travel ban on several African nations after calling Trump’s ban “hysterical xenophobia” at the start of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, because Biden had been responding to a Trump “tweet,” and because he was consulting scientists in imposing his travel ban, unlike the former president.
VERDICT: FALSE. Biden was not responding to a “tweet,” and Trump was consulting scientists at the time of his travel ban.
Fox News White House correspondent Peter Doocy asked White House press secretary Jen Psaki Monday about the apparent hypocrisy of President Joe Biden imposing a travel ban on South Africa and other African countries, after calling a travel ban by then-President Donald Trump at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in January 2020 “hysterical xenophobia” and “fear-mongering.”
Biden’s attack backfired and dogged him throughout the campaign until he admitted Trump had been right.
Establishment media fact-checkers, such as CNN, tried to rescue Biden from his ill-advised condemnation. In one of the most bizarre defense of Biden ever mounted, CNN even claimed: “It’s not clear Biden even knew about Trump’s China travel restrictions when he called Trump xenophobic on the day the restrictions were unveiled.”
However, Biden’s remarks were widely reported at the time — including by establishment outlets like The Hill — as a response to Trump’s travel ban policy.
Psaki has faced similar questions before — notably, the last time that Biden slapped a travel ban on South Africa, in January. Her explanation at the time was that Biden “was critical of the former president for having a policy that was not more comprehensive than travel restrictions. And he conveyed at the time, and more recently, the importance of having a multifaceted approach … not just travel restrictions.”
Her explanation has changed; the hypocrisy remains the same.
This time, Psaki claimed that Biden had criticized Trump in 2020 because he “put out, I believe, a xenophobic tweet,” and implied that Biden, unlike Trump, was listening to scientists.
The context of Biden’s remarks at the time, at a town hall meeting in Fort Madison, Iowa, make it clear that he was not reacting to a “tweet,” but to Trump’s actual policy of banning travel from China, which was the origin of the virus.
Furthermore, Trump was implementing that policy in consultation with his coronavirus task force, which he had formed several days before to deal with the threat from the emerging global pandemic.
Psaki also tried to claim that Biden was criticizing Trump for “what he called the coronavirus,” but Trump did not start calling the virus “foreign” or a “China virus” until months later.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.