Less than a month into the Biden administration and there have been plenty of complaints and questions. From signing numerous executive orders on his very first day to reversing laws regarding immigration and transgender in the military, the newest president hit the ground running. And then there’s the press secretary, Jen Psaki, who has raised more than a few eyebrows.
Although Psaki has promised to bring back a more “traditional” role and has tried to answer questions from members of the press, she seems to have taken a chapter out of the commander in chief’s book of stuttering and responding with vague answers. This may be the reason the Biden administration is rumored to have been trying to get the questions ahead of time, to make answering them a little easier.
The Daily Beast claimed to have participated in a WHCA Zoom call (off the record) during which several unnamed sources commented on the issue. According to the news outlet, a White House correspondent said:
“While it’s a relief to see briefings return, particularly with a commitment to factual information, the press can’t really do its job in the briefing room if the White House is picking and choosing the questions they want. That’s not really a free press at all.”
To be fair, other administrations in the past have tried to get an insight on what types of questions would be asked. Eric Schultz, former deputy press secretary for Barack Obama, said finding out what reporters are focusing on was standard procedure, pre-Donald Trump. “This is textbook communications work,” he said. “The briefing becomes meaningless if the press secretary has to repeatedly punt questions, instead of coming equipped to discuss what journalists are reporting on.”
While it may be considered “standard procedure,” it becomes a questionable practice in an administration where the president ran his campaign from a basement while dodging the press.
Ms. Psaki, therefore, has not had a great start to her role as press secretary, especially after being called to the carpet for a derogatory remark about the Space Force. During a briefing on Feb. 2, she was asked if Biden had made any decisions about the newest U.S. military branch’s future. Her response? “Wow. Space Force. It’s the plane of today,” she said in what was seemingly a comparison to the color scheme of Air Force One, a question that had been brought up earlier.
Representative Mike Rogers (R-AL) did not find the attempted joke very humorous. “It’s concerning to see the Biden administration’s press secretary blatantly diminish an entire branch of our military as the punchline of a joke, which I’m sure China would find funny,” he said, before explaining:
“The Space Force was passed with near unanimous support in Congress, the same type of ‘unity’ President Biden is supposedly working towards. Jen Psaki needs to immediately apologize to the men and women of the Space Force for this disgraceful comment.”
Rogers wasn’t the only representative to lambast the remark. “This is just another example of the Biden administration not taking China seriously while demeaning the incredible work of Space Force personnel,” Rep. Michael Waltz (R-FL) said, adding that the branch was established to protect national security, among other things, from Chinese threats.
The president has had a long career in politics and until more recently, was against gay marriage. Biden is trying hard to be an “all-inclusive” world leader, but his reputation will need a lot of work to make up for past political stands. So, with that in mind, it does not help that Psaki’s August 2020 tweet, considered a homophobic slur against Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), is making headlines. The press secretary wrote:
“Only in 2020 does #LadyG get to push a bunch of debunked conspiracy theories while questioning @SallyQYates (aka an American hero)”.
According to Trending Politics, “LadyG is a reference to conspiracy theories that have swirled around about Graham’s sexuality.”
Graham’s spokesman, Kevin Bishop, told the Daily Caller in a statement: “Very disappointed someone in her position would embrace this style politics. It says more about her than it does about Senator Graham.” Richard Grenell tweeted out a response, saying, “Homophobia and intolerance from the Left is growing. This should be widely condemned.”
A year ago, in February 2020, Psaki let everyone know how she felt about those who supported forty-five, tweeting: “Trump supporters are the worst no [question].”
Psaki is probably a good choice for Biden in his quest to restore America to pre-Trump times – in other words, back to the Obama administration. Ms. Psaki is no stranger to that time having first served as Obama’s traveling press secretary in 2008, and then later as deputy press secretary and deputy communications director for his White House communications team. In 2012, she defended then-Secretary of State John Kerry’s global diplomacy with her role as the spokesperson for the State Department. In 2015, Psaki became Obama’s communication director. During the past four years of a Trump America, Ms. Psaki worked as a political commentator on CNN.
And that tells it all, folks.
Read more from Kelli Ballard.