(Headline USA) Jen Psaki had been obfuscating and spinning as White House press secretary less than two weeks when a reporter asked whether Twitter’s ban of Donald Trump had made President Joe Biden’s life easier.
“We don’t spend a lot of time talking about or thinking about President Trump here,” she responded, despite the administration’s penchant for constantly bringing up Trump on every front imaginable, then added for emphasis: “Former President Trump.”
It was an early indication of the partisan disingenuousness that was to come with this press secretary. Her briefings were filled with sharp rebukes to any questions that countered the regime’s narrative. The sessions were rife with tap-dancing, in the sense of offering general banalities and rhetoric, but generally lacked the drama to draw big ratings on cable television.
Psaki, whose last day on the job is Friday, has dodged reporters’ questions nearly every weekday of the almost 500 days that Biden has been in office. That makes her a top White House communicator and perhaps the administration’s most public face after only the president and Vice President Kamala Harris. Her departure could complicate how Biden’s message gets out at a critical time for him, at least in the short term.
Succeeding Psaki is Karine Jean-Pierre, who like Biden’s Supreme Court pick appears to have landed the job at least in part because of her skin color and sexual preferences. The administration is quick and proud to note the Jean-Pierre is the first black woman and openly LGBTQ person to be White House press secretary. She takes over as the administration is sinking under crippling inflation, plummeting poll numbers and Russia’s war with Ukraine, and as the Democrat Party is bracing for November election losses that could erase its control of Congress.
The White House says Jean-Pierre, who has been Psaki’s chief deputy, will bring strong personal expertise and personality to the briefing room. That could be troubling, considering her alt-leftist pedigree. In addition to having previously worked for the radical group MoveOn.org, she is married to CNN anchor and correspondent Suzanne Malveaux.
Jean-Pierre is also an avowed insurrectionist, having repeatedly claimed claimed that both the 2016 presidential election and 2018 Georgia gubernatorial election were stolen.
She knows Biden well and has been a longtime adviser.
“I’ve had the honor of working with many White House press secretaries and no one has done the job as well as Jen Psaki,” White House chief of staff Ron Klain, a veteran of the Obama and Clinton administrations, said in a statement. “I will miss her terribly as a colleague and friend, but I know we are in great hands with Karine following her lead.”
Psaki has not denied reports she is heading to MSNBC, where on-air personalities are mostly sympathetic to Biden and where Jean-Pierre herself is a former analyst, and where she can continue to spin for leftist causes just like she has as press secretary. Such a move will do little to alter perceptions of Psaki on the left or right. Democrats see her as a champion of their causes; conservatives says she is standoffish.
But Psaki angered Republicans by likening the party’s supporters who adhere to Trump’s claims about the 2020 election to “silent lemmings. ” When she quipped early in her tenure that she did not know who at the White House could answer questions about Space Force, House Republicans said she was belittling a new branch of the armed services that is working to counter Chinese threats.
More recently, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, a former Trump press secretary now running for Arkansas governor, said Psaki’s failure to urge people to stop protesting outside the homes of judges represented “mind-boggling hypocrisy.” A New York Post columnist called Psaki “the condescending face of the Biden administration.
“At the end of the day, she is a policy wonk,” said Jeff Zients, Biden’s former COVID-19 response coordinator. He called her a “once in a generation talent” adept in both policy and communication.
A 43-year-old native of Stamford, Connecticut, Psaki is the mother of children ages 6 and 4. She served as State Department spokesperson as well as deputy press secretary and White House communications director for President Barack Obama. Facing reporters mere hours after Biden was sworn in on Jan. 20, 2021, Psaki stressed the importance of “bringing truth and transparency back to the briefing room,” and then spent her tenure at the podium doing the exact opposite.
Psaki, who got COVID-19 twice while on the job, despite being double-jabbed and boosted, showed that striking a balance between transparency and advancing the administration’s message could sometimes mean literally keeping her balance. While aboard Air Force One, she sometimes stood in the aisle taking reporters’ questions right through landing.
Psaki’s office referred questions to other White House staffers who could discuss her tenure. But she recently told Fox News Channel’s “MediaBuzz,” “I’m an Irish lass in my heart.”
“Sometimes I get a little fiery in there,” Psaki said. “But on most days, my hope and my objective is to not make it a gotcha moment and to make it a place where we are providing information, getting accurate information to the public through the press, through tough questions, through debate.”
Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press