Incoming White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Thursday offered a glimpse of how President-elect Joe Biden’s press operation will differ from President Trump’s – telling NPR’s Morning Edition that news will come far more from official press briefings than unauthorized leaks and indicating the dissemination of information will be more carefully controlled.
WASHINGTON, DC – OCTOBER 2 : US State Department spokesperson Jennifer Psaki speaks to journalists … [+]
In a departure from the outgoing administration’s open hostility to the news media, Psaki told host Steve Inskeep that reporters play an “essential role,” but added, “people don’t trust the information they’re getting from most sources.”
Psaki vowed a “return to… policy briefings and policy experts” to explain “what a COVID package may look like or what we’re going to do about immigration,” after Biden reportedly pledged to bring back daily White House press briefings.
The Trump White House has been wary of press briefings, even going over a year without one between 2019 and 2020 – though so has the Biden campaign, which took heat from critics for rarely making Biden available for press questions.
But Psaki indicated that the flow of information will largely begin and end with the briefings, predicting a continuation of the Biden team’s aversion to leaks and an end to the “Game of Thrones-style personnel sniping” that punctuated the Trump White House.
Asked about access for right-wing outlets like Fox News, Newsmax and OANN, Psaki compared them to Russian and Chinese state media outlets and said that she doesn’t think her job is to “give them a bigger platform,” though she added, “I also don’t think it’s my job to keep people out.”
Psaki sidestepped a question about whether the incoming administration will continue the Obama administration’s practice of prosecuting leakers and investigating journalists, deferring to an as-yet-unnamed attorney general nominee who, she said, will “not have political influence from the White House.”
“My resting place is to be steady and open and share information. But I am no pushover either,” Psaki, an Obama administration alum, said when asked about the Obama White House occasionally icing out Fox News. “We’re not going to allow the briefing room to be a platform for propaganda, and we will shut that down as needed as well.”
417. That’s how many days the administration spent between March 2019 and May 2020 without holding a press briefing. Current Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany restarted the practice after her predecessor, Stephanie Grisham, spent 10 months in the role without holding a single one. McEnany has continued to hold briefings, albeit with growing infrequency.
Biden has made diversity a clear focus of his appointments and is on track to nominate a record number of women and people of color to his cabinet. His communications team is no exception to that effort: last month, the Biden transition announced an all-female senior White House communications staff.