Psaki blames 'nature of' media for being ‘big driver’ behind push to say there’s a border ‘crisis'

The White House press secretary argues the migrant surge 'wasn’t really a crisis, it was a huge challenge'

White House press secretary Jen Psaki blamed the "nature of" media for being a "big driver" behind the push to say there’s a border "crisis." 

Psaki made the comment on "The Axe Files with David Axelrod" podcast on Thursday, arguing that the migrant surge "wasn’t really a crisis," but rather "a huge challenge."

During the podcast Axelrod covered a slew of topics and when he asked Psaki about the border, he noted that "there is obviously a big problem down there." 

"There is this wrestling match you go through several times a week as to whether you’re going to call it a ‘crisis’ or how you’re going to describe it," he said. 

Axelrod added that "this is the sort of game that drives you nuts in Washington. It’s like, 'I’m going to make you call it a crisis and then we will write a story saying you called it a crisis.’" 

"White House in crisis," Psaki responded, pointing out what she believes could be considered a hot headline. 

"That’s a big driver of it." 

"Sometimes the chyrons, the social media leads, they’re looking for the nugget right? And we were pushed and pushed and pushed," she added. 

Psaki then said that migrant surges are "cyclical." 

"We’ve seen surges at the border," she told Axelrod. "Every time it happens it’s bad." The White House's claims that the border surge is "cyclical" or "seasonal," however, has been widely disputed.

The press secretary then noted that "until we do something to address it over the long term," it’s "going to keep happening." 

"But really what we had to be focused on was what we were going to do about it and to us it’s like that wasn’t really a crisis, it was a huge challenge," Psaki said. 


"But really a big driver was we understand and know the nature of some components of social media and media these days and we just didn’t want to feed into that on this issue or really any issue." 

When President Biden referred to an immigration-related "crisis" last month, he was not referring to migrants crossing the southern border, Psaki insisted to reporters

The Biden administration had resisted using the term "crisis" to describe the number of migrants crossing the border in record numbers – including many unaccompanied children and 172,000 migrant encounters in March alone – instead referring to the situation as a "challenge," as Psaki had reiterated on Thursday.

On April 17, the president made reference to "the crisis that ended up on the border with young people," but according to Psaki this had been misconstrued.

"The president does not feel that children coming to our border seeking refuge from violence, economic hardships, and other dire circumstances is a crisis," Psaki said during a press briefing two days later. "He does feel that the crisis in Central America, the dire circumstances that many are fleeing from, that that is a situation we need to spend our time, our effort on, and we need to address it if we’re going to prevent more of an influx of migrants from coming in years to come."

The president's discussion of a crisis, she suggested, was meant to explain why he had not yet raised the cap on refugees that had been put in place by former President Trump. 


President Biden has scrapped a number of former President Trump’s immigration policies, which included construction of the border wall and having asylum seekers remain in Mexico instead of staying in the U.S. while they wait for their cases to be heard. The moves have led to a record surge in migrants, including unaccompanied minors, which had recently strained capacity at immigration facilities.

Fox News’ Adam Shaw and Ronn Blitzer contributed to this report.