When Joe Biden appointed former CNN analyst and Obama communications director Jen Psaki as his Press Secretary, you could almost hear a verbal sigh of relief from the White House press corps. Most of them had complained bitterly about Donald Trump’s various choices for the position and they were looking forward to a more relaxed, cozy relationship with the incoming administration. I saw multiple journalists on social media publishing similar, glowing reviews of Psaki’s pressers, noting how nice it was to not have someone on the podium that was “constantly lying.”
With few exceptions, the reporters in the briefing room have been treating Psaki with the expected kid gloves, mostly tossing softball questions and laughing along with her. But in recent days, some tense moments have been noted, suggesting that the relationship she’s been enjoying with the journalists might be hitting some rocky patches. The Washington Examiner points out a few of these today, as well as highlighting some interviews that Psaki has given where she was less than charitable when talking about the WH press corps.
There were times during this week’s first three daily briefings when Psaki verbally jousted with reporters from several major national media outlets — even telling one to avoid putting words in her mouth.
One of the first cracks to emerge in Psaki’s professional veneer came last weekend when she described her approach to managing an unruly press room in colorful terms.
“When reporters are getting really loud, or they’re starting to ask crazy questions, I just slow down my pace, and I talk very quietly, and I treat them like I’m an orderly sometimes in an insane asylum,” she told NPR.
It was not the first time in the past two weeks she risked repeating a mistake made by many of her predecessors: referring to the White House press corps in a condescending tone. The result typically is a combative briefing room, which hinders a spokesperson’s ability to push a president’s message.