Fox News is repeatedly running an edited audio clip and mischaracterizing a reporter’s interaction with the incoming White House press secretary to claim that she laughed about a nationwide shortage of baby formula.
The nation is facing an alarming shortage of baby formula due to corporate conglomeration, poor regulatory oversight, recalls at major plants, and supply chain issues worsened by the pandemic. As a result, parents are struggling to feed their babies, while stores have had to limit the amount of products people can buy at once.
During a May 11 Air Force One flight to Chicago, incoming White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre took questions from the press. When asked about the formula shortage, she said the Food and Drug Administration and the White House are working around the clock to address the crisis. She added that the administration is “committed to pulling every lever,” and is already seeing “progress in getting more supply onto the market.” Jean-Pierre went on to list several actions the FDA is taking, including “working closely with industry to maximize their production capabilities by opening new lines for products in high demand, expediting FDA reviews to more efficiently get supply out, and expanding hours of operation for manufacturers,” among others.
Another reporter asked a follow-up question about who is in charge of these efforts at the White House. Jean-Pierre responded that she wasn’t sure and laughed while adding that she “can find out for you and get you a person who is running point,” before the reporter quickly changed subjects to ask about Russia’s war in Ukraine.
After the press briefing, Fox News repeatedly aired a deceptively edited clip that cut a large portion of Jean-Pierre’s comments about the FDA’s actions in order to emphasize her laugh and make the administration seem unprepared to handle the crisis. Still more segments on the network did not include the sliced clip but still managed to take her comments out of context and make it appear as though she laughed about the actual formula shortage:
- On the May 12 edition of Outnumbered, co-host and former Trump White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany introduced the deceptively edited clip and claimed that “one can hardly blame” Jean-Pierre for laughing because “perhaps she is taking a cue from her bosses.” McEnany went on to claim that “there’s a lot of laughing at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue,” while co-host Harris Faulkner added, “What they may have to stop laughing about now, though, is the baby formula crisis.”
- On The Faulkner Focus, the eponymous anchor aired the same sliced clip and claimed that the president isn’t doing enough to remedy the shortage. Faulkner introduced the segment by saying there had been “a giggle from the lectern at the White House yesterday during the press briefing from the new press secretary, but no definitive action yet,” claiming that Republicans are committed to solving the crisis.
- Fox & Friends aired the same deceptively edited clip after co-host Ainsley Earhardt painted Jean-Pierre as callous about the formula shortage, saying, “The White House is facing backlash this morning after incoming press secretary chuckled when asked who was in charge of fixing the severe baby formula shortage.”
- During the same Fox & Friends show, co-host Brian Kilmeade accused Jean-Pierre of laughing when asked who is going to solve the baby formula shortage. Kilmeade went on to ask, “Really, so why is that not a priority?”
- On the May 11 edition of his Fox News show, Sean Hannity claimed that “the Biden administration obviously doesn’t care” about the formula crisis and “they have no clue what to do,” adding that “Joe Biden’s new press secretary actually laughed when a reporter asked about the ongoing shortage. Not sure what’s so funny here — I’ll let you decide.”
These attacks are just the latest in Fox News’ series of attacks against Jean-Pierre, who is the first Black woman — and first openly gay person — to serve as press secretary in White House history. Network hosts recently blew up at Jean-Pierre over a 2020 interview on MSNBC in which she rightly called Fox News out for its racism.