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Fox News reporter brings up 'half-million-dollar Christmas-tree' fire in White House briefing, asks Psaki whether suspect's release is 'good governing'

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A screenshot of Fox News White House reporter Peter Doocy and White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki
The Fox News White House reporter Peter Doocy and White House press secretary Jen Psaki.Fox News
  • The Fox News Christmas-tree fire came up during Monday's White House press briefing.

  • Peter Doocy sought to link it to New York's bail-reform law and nationwide crime.

  • He also said the fire caused "half-million-dollar" damages.

The Fox News reporter Peter Doocy brought up the network's highly publicized Christmas-tree fire during Monday's White House press briefing.

Doocy asked whether the Biden administration considered it "good governing" for the man accused of setting fire to the network's "all-American Christmas tree on Fox Square" along Manhattan's Sixth Avenue to be released without bail.

The network's morning show "Fox & Friends" covered the fire last week, saying it showed "no city is safe, no person is safe, from the subway on down." The next day, a new tree was set up outside Fox News headquarters.

Since the suspect was charged with several misdemeanors — including arson, criminal mischief, reckless endangerment, and criminal trespass — but not a violent felony, he was able to be released without bail under New York's bail-reform law. Third-degree felony arson requires a defendant to post bond under New York's 2019 law.

The exchange between Doocy and White House press secretary Jen Psaki was part of a broader question about crime.

Doocy described a nationwide "increase in criminal activity because some prosecutors are too soft on crime," a complicated subject involving a record spike in murders from 2020 but far fewer nationwide than the peak reached in the early 1990s, as well as a continuation of the overall crime rate lowering nationwide since 1994.

As Doocy strung together other incidents he tied to New York's bail-reform law — which the Biden administration has no control over — he added his employer's Christmas-tree fire into the mix.

"So the final one would be, just in the last week, we saw a New York Post item about a pickpocket with more than 30 arrests back out on the street," Doocy said.

"We've seen an arsonist burn down a half-million-dollar Christmas tree in New York City back out on the streets," he added. "Does the president think that's good governing?"

Psaki showed little patience for Doocy's third question, referring him to the New York Police Department, which announced the arrest of the suspect shortly after the early-morning blaze last week.

"Again, I think I've spoken to the president's concern about retail theft," Psaki said. "If you have specific — and any actions we've taken, for specific cases, I would point you to the local police departments or the Department of Justice."

Psaki has dismissed questions from Fox News in the past. Last month, she brushed off Doocy's question on whether President Joe Biden should apologize to Kyle Rittenhouse, the teenager who was recently acquitted of all charges, including counts of homicide, related to the killing of two men during civil unrest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last year. Rittenhouse accused Biden of "defaming" him by including an image of him alongside white supremacists and militia groups in a 2020 campaign video.

"The president believes in condemning hatred, division, and violence. That's exactly what was done in that video," Psaki said at the time.

Despite the occasional tense exchange in the briefing room, Doocy told The New York Times in September that it "never feels like I'm getting smacked down or vice versa."

"I understand why it looks like that, some of the ways that stuff gets clipped, but it doesn't feel like that in the room," he said.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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