by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
President Biden’s chief spokeswoman, Jen Psaki, was welcomed back to the White House with rave reviews. But two weeks after her opening briefing on Inauguration Day, the novelty of a new administration seems to be wearing thin.
During that first briefing, Psaki said she hoped to rebuild trust with the public and press after five years of former President Donald Trump, during which he and his aides uttered or tweeted tens of thousands of false or misleading statements, according to multiple independent fact-checkers. But while Psaki has not ventured anywhere near Trump’s “enemy of the people” rhetoric, her polished-yet-personable demeanor has been challenged from the White House podium and during other appearances. …
… 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. …
… [S]ome of her retorts have risked sounding hostile. That includes her comments on the White House’s stance concerning Trump’s Space Force initiative after a question from Bloomberg reporter Josh Wingrove.