Mislead, Dodge, Or Circle Back: The ‘Day One’ Strategies Of Jen Psaki

Jen Psaki, White House press secretary, speaks during a news conference in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021. President Joe Biden told House Democrats on Wednesday that while he was open to tightening the eligibility for his proposed $1,400 stimulus checks, any move to cut the payments' base amount would mean starting his presidency with a broken promise.
Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images

With the Trump administration making way for the incoming Biden administration, no change was more immediate and noticeable than the atmosphere in the White House press briefing room.

After four years of activist-level investigation — which sometimes included journalists shouting at various members of the Trump team if their questions weren’t answered in an acceptable fashion — it’s now time for an ideological regime change.

With Jen Psaki at the helm, a wide swath of White House correspondents have visibly taken their feet away from the gas pedal, offering softball questions and quivering adoration. The other side of this coin, however, is Jen Psaki’s strategy, which has been used throughout every press briefing to wet the intellectual beaks of her doting audience while — in many instances — providing nothing of substance or value.

Whether it be misleading, promising to “circle back,” stalling for time by congratulating journalists for the quality of their questions, failing to answer the question, or deferring to a “greater authority,” every one of Psaki’s tactics have been visible from, as Biden puts it, “Day One.”

Promising to tell the truth

Q: “Thanks, Jen.  First off, congratulations. And one question about your role. You touched on this a little bit at the top, but when you are up there, do you see yourself — your primary role as promoting the interests of the President, or are you there to provide us the unvarnished truth so that we can share that with the American people?”

Jen Psaki: “Well, let me first say, Zeke, that I come to this podium having served both in the White House and at the State Department, as the spokesperson there, and I traveled the world on trips to promote democracy, where I saw the power of the United States and, of course, the power of this podium, and the power of truth, and the importance of setting an example of engagement and transparency.

So I will just state — because you gave me the opportunity — I have deep respect for the role of a free and independent press in our democracy and for the role all of you play.

As I noted earlier, there will be moments when we disagree, and there will certainly be days where we disagree for extensive parts of the briefing even perhaps. But we have a common goal, which is sharing accurate information with the American people.

If the President were standing here with me today, he would say he works for the American people. I work for him, so I also work for the American people. But his objective and his commitment is to bring transparency and truth back to government — to share the truth, even when it’s hard to hear. And that’s something that I hope to deliver on in this role as well.”


Q: “Let me ask you on policy, if I can quickly. You talk — obviously, your role is sort of in terms of delivering the best information to the American people on behalf of this White House. The battle for truth may be as tough a fight right now as is the battle against coronavirus. How do you and President Biden plan to combat disinformation that, in many ways, led to that assault we witnessed two weeks ago today on the Capitol?”

Jen Psaki: “Well, I think, Peter, there are a number of ways to combat misinformation.  One of them is accurate information and truth and data, and sharing information even when it is hard to hear, and even when it is not meeting the expectations of people at home who are desperate for this crisis to be over.”

I’ll circle back…

Q:Jen, will we see a death penalty moratorium under this administration?”

Jen Psaki:  “The President, as you know, has stated his opposition to the death penalty in the past. He remains — that remains his view. I don’t have anything more for you in terms of future actions or mechanisms, though. I can — I’ll circle back if there’s more I can share with you.”


Q: “If I can follow up on that a little bit, Jen.  Is the President being updated, first of all, on the progress of the FBI investigation? And we know the FBI is leading the investigation into the assault on the Capitol. Does President Biden have confidence in FBI Director Wray?”

Jen Psaki:  “Well, Peter, as you noted, there’s an ongoing investigation, which we certainly support. I’m not sure that he has received an update today on anything about the investigation, but we certainly support those ongoing. And we will, I’m sure, be receiving updates in the days ahead. Go ahead [attempting to move to next question].”

Q:Does he have confidence in the FBI Director?”

Jen Psaki: “I — I think — I have not spoken with him about specifically FBI Director Wray in recent days, Peter, but I’ll circle back with you if there’s more to convey.”

Good (or even great) question!

Q:On a lighter note, will he keep Donald Trump’s Air Force One color scheme change?”

Jen Psaki: “This is such a good question. I have not had the opportunity to dig into that today, given the number of executive actions, orders, the inauguration — a few things happening. I will venture to get you an answer on that, and maybe we can talk about it in here tomorrow.”


Q: “With regards to reopening schools, what level of vaccination in teachers or students or level of testing does the administration think would be appropriate in order to meet the target date that the President has said?”

Jen Psaki: “This is a great question. And as I noted at the beginning, as a mom myself, I want to know all the details as well.  We’re going to have more to share from our health experts in the coming days, and I will venture to get them in here to give you all a briefing on the specifics. But we really want to lean into them on their expertise on that front.”

Not answering the question

Q:That’s all right. I’ll take it now. So, if President Biden wants a theme of his presidency to be ‘unifying the country,’ does he think that Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer should drop a potentially divisive Senate impeachment trial?”

Jen Psaki: “Well, he spoke today, as you all saw, about unity in his inaugural address and the importance of unity and bringing the country together, and the resolve of the American people in helping to get through this moment.

You know, we are confident though that, just like the American people can, the Senate can also multi-task, and they can do their constitutional duty while continuing to conduct the business of the American people.

And his view is that the way to bring the country together is to address the problems we’re facing. And so that means getting this COVID relief package through, having Democrats and Republicans take a serious look at that and have conversations with each other about how to move it forward. And he’s going to leave the mechanics, the timing, and the specifics of how Congress moves forward on impeachment to them.”


Q: “Hi, congratulations on your new position.  Owen Jensen with EWTN, Global Catholic Network. Two big concerns for pro-life Americans: the Hyde Amendment, which of course keeps taxpayer dollars, as you know, from paying for abortions — Medicaid abortions — and the Mexico City Policy, which, under the previous administration, they expanded to keep tax dollars from overseas paying for abortions. So what are President — what is President Biden planning on doing on those two items right now?”

Jen Psaki: “Well, I think we’ll have more to say on the Mexico City Policy in the coming days. But I will just take the opportunity to remind all of you that he is a devout Catholic and somebody who attends church regularly. He started his day attending church with his family this morning. But I don’t have anything more for you on that.”

Deflect by deferring

Q: “And could you talk a little bit just about the — kind of, the preparations for getting the White House ready and safe for the new president? It’s been reported that you did $500,000 worth of deep cleaning. Could you talk about the measures that you took to ensure that the President is safe?”

Jen Psaki: “Well, the — I would refer you to the General Services Administration who oversees any steps like that.”

Ian Haworth is an Editor and Writer for The Daily Wire. Follow him on Twitter at @ighaworth.

The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.

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