‘A Civil, Good Relationship’: Jen Psaki Explains Why Biden’s White House Avoided All Out War With Fox News
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 13: White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki attends her final daily press briefing at the White House on May 13, 2022 in Washington, DC. Today is Psakis last day as White House Press Secretary. Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre will replace Psaki. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Now former Press Secretary Jen Psaki revealed the reason that President Joe Biden’s White House intentionally avoided all-out war with Fox News during a Wednesday interview.

Psaki, who gave her last White House press briefing on Friday, made an appearance at the Institute of Politics at the University of Chicago for a forum titled “Notes from the Frying Pan to the Fire” — and was asked almost immediately about her often contentious exchanges with Fox News reporters like Peter Doocy.

“So I’m just going to get this out of the way. We’re just going to do the Doocy,” IOP Speaker Series Director Jennifer Steinhauer began. “The country was sort of mesmerized by these weekly, or often more than that, sparring that you had with the Fox News reporter in the briefing room.”

“Some people think that you hate each other. Some people think you secretly have brunch,” Steinhauer continued, asking, “So I’m curious, what was your true role of those moments in the briefing room, and what was your approach there?”

“First, let me say that I do like Peter Doocy, and that may not be popular with everybody. That’s okay,” Psaki began. “But part of the objective when I came into this job was to reestablish civility in the briefing room and make it a place where people could hear information through the media, to the public, not a place where there wasn’t debate and tough questioning. Actually, when that is happening, in my view, that’s when it’s working. And that’s an important part of our democracy, not just in the United States, but it’s also a message we’re sending to the world. This is not a common thing that other countries do, where there’s three briefings nearly every day that happen in the U.S. government.”

Although she did not mention former President Donald Trump by name, Psaki made it clear that the White House’s goal had been to set itself apart from the previous administration — particularly by fostering a civil relationship even with members of the press corps who might work for outlets that were less “friendly” to the administration.

“Peter — so we made a decision from the beginning that part of restoring civility was treating people with respect in the briefing room, with, to calling on everyone, including Fox, which didn’t always have positive reporting about the president or the vice president, and not making a dispute with Fox the story. And there are times when that may be appropriate, but not when you follow an administration where they were disputing the legitimacy of institutions or the media,” she said.

Her overall conclusion was simple: “We did not brunch, but we also didn’t hate each other. It was somewhere in between. What I will say is that we had a civil, good relationship.”

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