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Fox News host says Biden not responding to China threat because ‘he’s not in command'

By Sarah May
|
February 15, 2023

As all sorts of speculation continues to swirl around the series of objects shot down by the U.S. military in recent days, the continued silence from the Oval Office is drawing criticism from both sides of the aisle, and in the estimation of Fox News' Jesse Watters, President Joe Biden has not spoken to the American people simply because “he's not in command.”

Watters' scathing assessment came during Tuesday's installment of Fox News panel program The Five, during which he was joined by co-host Jeanine Pirro in blasting the administration's handling of the controversy, adding to criticism pouring in from both Republicans and Democrats in Congress.

Biden silence persists

Over the course of three days last weekend, military jets engaged in takedown missions over Alaska, Canada, and Lake Huron in a seemingly unprecedented string of events.

Those developments came in the immediate wake of the military's action in shooting down what was described as a Chinese spy balloon off the coast of South Carolina the week prior, a move that the administration delayed while the large craft made its way across the continent in full view.

Despite the highly unusual nature of recent events, Biden has remained silent on the matter, failing to address the citizenry directly to explain the presence or absence of any ongoing threats or simply to outline the administration's rationale for the actions taken to date.

Not surprisingly, that silence has prompted a negative response from across the political spectrum, with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle now calling for transparency from the commander in chief himself.

Republicans demand answers

Despite assurances from White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre that the president is taking the issue of flying objects “seriously” and that “[t]here's no need to panic,” Republican legislators have declared the administration's response insufficient to meet the moment.

As Fox News noted separately, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on Monday stated, “President Biden owes the American people some answers. What are we shooting down? Where did they come from? Whether they are hostile or not, is there coherent guidance about when to shoot them down?”

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) echoed those sentiments, saying, “After allowing a Chinese spy balloon to fly across America when we could've downed it off the Aleutian Islands, President Biden has not downed three 'objects' despite claiming last week that would have posed unacceptable risks to public safety. The president owes the American people an explanation, direct and on camera, of what we know about these 'objects' and what steps he's taking to protect America's sovereign airspace,” added Cotton.

Also deriding Biden's silence was Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), who, after a Tuesday briefing, made it clear that more transparency is needed, saying as the Washington Examiner noted, “It is baffling and frustrating that these 'objects' had to be taken down with fighter jets and missiles, yet we still do not know anything about them and still don't have them in our possession,” later adding, “President Joe Biden's lack of transparency is concerning and deeply disturbing.”

Democrats agree

In a rare instance of bipartisan consensus, a number of Democrats have also spoken out in frustration over Biden's silence, with Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) stating Tuesday, “I think the public needs and deserves to know more. A lot of what we've been told are facts that the American people could know and should know, without any harm to our national security. I've urged repeatedly that on this topic and others, the administration could be more forthcoming.”

During a Sunday appearance on NBC's Meet the Press, Rep. James Hines (CT-04) voiced what he described as his “real concerns” about Biden's lack of transparency, adding that the “absence of information” will only foster a greater sense of national anxiety.

CNN noted that one Democratic congressman who spoke to the outlet on background declared Biden's silence “odd,” especially in light of the fact that “people are freaked out.”

Despite those calls from his own party to address the American electorate on this matter of growing concern, Jean-Pierre appeared reluctant to give any impression that the president has any plans to do so anytime soon, saying on Monday, “I won't speak for the president's personal speaking schedule, but I mean, he has been deeply engaged in every one of these discussions.”

“Not in command”

Though lawmakers were somewhat more diplomatic in their speculation as to why Biden has stayed mum, Watters and Pirro were far less reserved when giving their take on the situation during the aforementioned panel discussion on The Five.

Pirro said, “Never in American history have we had F-22 Raptors shooting off Sidewinders over the continental United States. This is unheard of in the United States. These are air battles. This president has an obligation to tell us what he knows and what he doesn't know.”

Watters was even more blunt in his read on things, saying of Biden, “[h]e doesn't know what he's doing. He doesn't even know what these objects are. It looks like these might have just been 'weather balloons.'”

The co-host continued, “He got trigger-happy because his pollsters said he looked like an idiot for letting the Chinese balloon spy on us the entire way across the continent. And so now it's like anything that flies dies. But he's keeping it quiet.” How much longer that strategy can be maintained, however, only time will tell.