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Douglas Andrews / February 4, 2021

Jen Psaki’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Week

It’s still early, but Joe Biden’s White House press secretary doesn’t quite seem up to the job.

We wonder: What was White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki thinking back in 2014, when she donned that ridiculous Russian hat? Did she not realize the grave threat posed by that country to ours? The country that was our sworn enemy during a near half-century’s Cold War? The country whose president, Vladimir Putin, has sought to undermine our republic at every opportunity? The country whom Democrats would soon discover is the world’s biggest boogeyman?

Perhaps one day she’ll circle back with us.

In his 2005 book Taking Heat, Ari Fleisher, President George W. Bush’s first press secretary, called it “the most rewarding, engaging, exciting, and enjoyable job I could ever imagine holding.” At the same time, he called it “the toughest, hardest, most grinding and grueling job I could ever imagine holding.”

So, naturally, we wonder if Jen Psaki is having fun yet. We ask because this gig seems to be getting the best of her. (Don’t get us wrong: We certainly wouldn’t want to have to defend Joe Biden’s ruinous policies every day, but at least the press pool she’s been blessed with is made up mostly of cupcakes and thrilled-to-be-here types. Unlike the insufferably obnoxious Jim Acosta types, who somehow managed to be given other assignments now that Donald Trump has left the building.)

Why do we think the job is getting to Psaki? For one, because the White House communications team is trying to stack the deck in her favor. As the Washington Examiner reports, “White House reporters are riled up by President Biden’s communications staff asking for a sneak peek into what questions they plan to ask during press secretary Jen Psaki’s briefings. The issue came up during a White House Correspondents’ Association video call on Friday. Print reporters were encouraged by WHCA leaders to push back against these requests.”

We should hope they pushed back. Can anyone imagine the uproar if the aforementioned Fleischer — or Trump Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany — had asked members of the White House press pool to submit their questions in advance?

For that matter, how might McEnany have fared had she mocked, say, a new agency within the Department of Housing and Urban Development or Health and Human Services? Because that’s essentially what Psaki did earlier this week when she was asked whether Biden planned to keep Trump’s newly established Space Force as a sixth branch of the military.

“Wow. Space Force,” she cooed. “It’s the plane of today. It is an interesting question. I am happy to check with our Space Force point of contact. I’m not sure who that is. I will find out and see if we have any update on that.”

Wow. Space Force. She hasn’t apologized for her mockery of an entire military branch, but maybe she’s right. Maybe we should just leave space to the Chinese and the Russians, and not worry about things like satellite-killing missiles, electromagnetic pulse weapons, and space-based cyberwarfare.

Nor has Psaki apologized for an August 5 tweet in which she directed an anti-homosexual slur toward South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham. Or does everyone refer to him as “LadyG”?

As for the Biden administration’s attempt to get the press pool’s questions in advance, one intrepid correspondent made clear during the video call that he’d had his Wheaties that morning. After an obligatory swipe at the Trump communications team, he said, “While it’s a relief to see briefings return, particularly with a commitment to factual information, the press can’t really do its job in the briefing room if the White House is picking and choosing the questions they want. That’s not really a free press at all.”

No, it isn’t. And if Psaki’s first two weeks in office are any indication, we shouldn’t be getting our hopes up.

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