If there is one main message that Jen Psaki, the new White House press secretary, wishes to convey about the Biden administration, it is that they are going to be completely honest and transparent with the public. “We have a common goal, which is sharing accurate information with the American people,” Psaki said at her first press conference on January 20.
To the surprise of no one, the liberal media has preemptively declared this to be a major triumph. Perhaps no one is more relieved than CNN’s Brian Stelter. Mere days after Psaki’s proclamation to tell the truth, the chyron on Stelter’s Sunday show read, “Psaki promises to share ‘accurate info’ (How refreshing).” In case anyone wondered who the author behind that sycophant editorial was, Stelter gleefully tweeted, “I wrote the chyron.”
Stelter is far from the only person in the media who has praised Psaki’s supposed candidness. Jay Carney, who formerly served as then-Vice President Biden’s communications director and later as President Obama’s press secretary, told CNN, “The Biden administration telegraphed early how they were going to be honest…. Instead of spinning, they’ve been clear about COVID-19, that it’s going to get worse before it gets better. Deposits in the integrity bank.” Who better to assess the new press secretary’s performance than her former colleague?
The New York Times echoed Carney’s sentiment with the headline “Jen Psaki, Biden’s new press secretary, pledges to bring ‘truth and transparency back.’ ” Meanwhile, a Washington Post headline said, “Get ready for reality-grounded White House press briefings.”
There is only one problem with these promises: Psaki has not brought “truth and transparency back,” and if her brief tenure serves as any indication, it does not appear that she intends to.
On several occasions in her first week, Psaki has already misrepresented or distorted several facts to fit the Biden administration’s narrative. Psaki was forced to awkwardly walk back Biden’s claim that anyone who wants a vaccine will be able to receive it by the spring. Instead of saying that he misspoke, she insisted that it was merely “his desire to ensure there’s greater availability in the spring.” Notice what she did there?
In virtually every press briefing, Psaki has stated ad nauseam that the Trump administration had no vaccine plan, something even the insufferable Dr. Fauci has refuted. She has egregiously suggested that Trump officials did not engage with Democrat governors to discuss vaccine distribution, even though former Vice President Mike Pence, who headed Trump’s Coronavirus Task Force, met with governors from all 50 states on more than 35 separate occasions.
She has said that in order to meet the new administration’s “bold” plan of vaccinating 100 million people in 100 days, they would have to massively increase the number of available doses, even though the Trump administration was already well on its way to doing that. On Trump’s final day in office, 1.6 million people were vaccinated, the most in a single day thus far.
Besides these distortions, during most of her briefings, Psaki has largely avoided saying anything of substance, while keeping the focus on COVID relief and “racial equity.”
When she was asked if Biden supported impeaching Trump, she gave this non-answer: “The president certainly respects the role that Congress has … overseeing the trial moving forward, in determining the pace and the path forward for holding the former president accountable.”
When Psaki was asked what sort of outreach Biden has extended towards Republican members of Congress, she threw in meaningless phrases such as “They’re looking to have a conversation,” or “They’re looking to have a dialogue.”
“I will circle back,” seems to be a particular favorite response of Psaki’s. One wonders if the media will secretly miss sparring with Trump’s Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany. At the very least, McEnany didn’t answer questions as though she were speaking in front of a focus group, and she certainly let reporters know where Trump stood on the issues that mattered to the American people.
When she was asked if Biden would roll back protections for the Little Sisters of the Poor, a group of Catholic Nuns that provides care for the elderly, Psaki said, “I haven’t discussed that particular issue with him. I’m happy to circle back.”
Less than a minute later, when she was asked if Biden supported granting statehood to Washington, D.C. Psaki said, “I hate to disappoint you, but I will have to circle back.”
When a reporter asked Psaki if she was concerned about the lack of bipartisan support for Biden’s proposed $1.9 trillion stimulus, Psaki quickly cited support from “health experts,” “economists,” and “Senator Bernie Sanders.”
When she was asked by Fox reporter Peter Doocy why Biden and members of his family were not wearing masks at the Lincoln Memorial after he signed an Executive Order (EO) mandating they be worn on federal property, Psaki responded (confusing him with his father): “I think, Steve, he was celebrating an evening of a historic day in our country … I think we have big — bigger issues to worry about at this moment in time.”
When Psaki refused to answer a question about Biden’s support for the filibuster, she had this illuminating exchange with a reporter:
Reporter: I don’t think I heard an answer about whether the president supports keeping the filibuster — where he sits on that. Has he has he talked to Senator Schumer about that? I mean, he served there a long time. What are his thoughts on that?
Psaki: I think what I was conveying to Kristen is that the president has been clear, he wants to work with members of both parties and find bipartisan paths forward. And I don’t have any more conversations to read out for you at this point in time.
Reporter: Okay, but that doesn’t specifically answer that, unless I’m not understanding your answer.
Psaki: I don’t think I have more — more to add to my answer.
How’s that for transparency?
Psaki also refused to answer a question about the Biden administration’s involvement in the Abraham Accords and instead referred the reporter to the State Department. She would not say whether or not the Biden the administration characterized the BDS movement as anti-Semitic and did not bother mentioning that Israel remains our strongest ally in the Middle East.
When Psaki isn’t busy dodging questions, she relishes answering softballs such as:
“How does President Biden plan to recover the United States’ image around the world?”
“Will he keep Donald Trump’s Air Force One color scheme change?”
“Do you think it’s ever appropriate for this White House to have a political event or a political meeting?”
“Has he ever been at all wistful about sort of missing the fun parts of being a candidate and the Inauguration?”
Somewhere McEnany is probably wondering where these reporters were during her tenure when she was asked nonsensical questions such as “Does President Trump believe that it was a good thing that the South lost the Civil War?” or “As the person who speaks for the president, does the president denounce white supremacism and groups that espouse it in all their forms?”
As Biden continues his signing blitz of EOs for “racial equity,” U.S. taxpayer funds for global abortion, and the elimination of thousands of energy jobs, Psaki continues to lecture us about Biden’s supposed vision of unity, truth, and transparency.
Perhaps maybe at some point she will circle back to the 40 EOs he has already signed into law and explain how exactly his overreach will make our lives better.
David Keltz was a speechwriter in the Executive Branch and is the author of Media Bias in the Trump Presidency and the Extinction of the Conservative Millennial. He previously served as a White House Intern for Vice President Mike Pence.