Psaki grouses, "I have had threats" as she describes most difficult part of her job

Psaki grouses, "I have had threats" as she describes most difficult part of her job
AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki’s last day on the job was Friday. She held a press briefing and bid goodbye to her biggest fans, the White House press corps. She was emotional at one point and that was unusual behavior for her. Her personality is more ice queen than warm and fuzzy, at least on camera.

Psaki made the rounds during the week giving exit interviews with a variety of media outlets. During a breakfast meeting sponsored by The Christian Science Monitor, she brought up threats made to her during her time as White House press secretary.

“I’ve had threats, I have had nasty letters, texts to me with my personal address, the names of my children,” Psaki told a group of reporters Thursday at a breakfast meeting sponsored by The Christian Science Monitor.

“It crosses lines, and you know, that’s when it becomes a little scary,” she said.

She went on to point a finger at the Arlington Republican Party in Virginia and accused them of releasing her home address. They deny the accusation.

Psaki, whose last day on the job is Friday, said there have been times when she has alerted the Secret Service about the threats. Psaki has two children, ages 4 and 6, and their safety “is a real concern for me,” she said.

Psaki said some of those who sent messages threatened show up at her house. No one has, she said, but she said her home address has been circulated among the Arlington Republican Party in Virginia.

The Arlington GOP responded in a statement to USA TODAY that it “has not publicly disseminated any Biden administration official’s home address, unlike the hordes of progressive activists online who have disseminated the addresses of justices of the Supreme Court. Nor are we disseminating Ms. Psaki’s home address among our membership.”

She went on to say that as a public figure, “People can dislike me – that’s OK.” Psaki said that people should be alarmed over how common threats are against public figures and that “it is a sign of the venom that we see out there in society.” Let me be clear – I do not advocate for threats against public officials. In today’s explosive political atmosphere, that is a very dangerous thing to do. There is no need to incite violence on any level against any public official or public figure. I will say, though, that if Jen was being perfectly honest, she would have connected some dots and then pointed out that threats have even reached her.

Public discourse lost all civility during the last administration. Regular viewers of White House press briefings saw spectacles never seen before in the James S. Brady Briefing Room. Reporters raised their voices and even yelled at Trump’s press secretaries. Some reporters for cable news networks worked to make themselves network stars and were rewarded with their own shows – looking at you, Jim Acosta. It was crazy. Psaki didn’t receive that kind of treatment. She, instead, received slobbering coverage from the media and reporters sang her praises. Remember how delighted they were with the “Psaki bombs”?

During the Trump administration, it became routine for unhinged progressives to stand in public and essentially instigate violence from those who opposed the administration, and especially Trump himself. Republican lawmakers were run out of restaurants by protesters. Others were harassed in movie theatres and other public venues because of the jobs they held. One Bernie bro took the hyper-charged political atmosphere to a deadly level when he opened fire on Republicans practicing for the annual Congressional Baseball Game for Charity in Alexandria, Virginia. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise came very close to death. A U.S. Capitol police officer, a congressional aide, and a lobbyist were shot, too. It was an act of domestic terrorism.

Rep. Maxine Waters stood out in front of a federal building and encouraged harassment of Trump administration officials in June of 2018. She denied she was trying to incite violence. She even included the children of the public officials.

“Let’s make sure we show up wherever we have to show up. And if you see anybody from that Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd. And you push back on them. And you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere. We’ve got to get the children connected to their parents,” Waters said at the Wilshire Federal Building, according to video of the event.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the first White House press secretary who was a working mom, received enough threats to require Secret Service protection. She was the first press secretary to receive that level of security. Her children were very young at the time.

There has been an increase of threats to lawmakers and other public figures on both sides of the aisle in recent years. When Joe Biden ran for president, he promised to bring unity and civility back. He promised to bring back “norms”. Unfortunately, at least for now, this behavior is normal. Psaki can look at her boss (now former boss) and see that he lied about bringing unity back. He divides between political parties, race, and gender. He pits progressives against conservatives, Democrats against Republicans, and himself against the former president, on the regular. He referred to Texas Republicans as Neanderthals, and “Mega MAGA” Republicans as the most dangerous group ever in his lifetime. He slammed tens of millions of Trump voters as a “group” and insulted their votes. His absurd escalation in rhetoric is not helpful.

It’s too bad Jen Psaki received these threats but it now comes with the territory. She wasn’t a babe in the woods when she took the job. She’s an alum of the Obama administration and worked as John Kerry’s press secretary at the State Department. Children often get mixed up in the fray. As Maxine Waters said in 2018, “We’ve got to get the children connected to their parents.” Get, how? That sounds nefarious, doesn’t it?

Farewell, Jen Psaki. Go enjoy your bigtime deal with MSNBC and cash in on enduring whatever it is you endured during your time as press secretary.

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