I’ll say it: Jen Psaki is probably the least effective spin doctor I’ve seen in my (thankfully) handful of years paying attention to the God-forsaken trainwreck that is White House press briefings.
Her style is like a subdued Kayleigh McEnany. Psaki wants to clap back at journalists she believes are hostile (read: doing their jobs) but with none of the “PWNED” intensity McEnany gave off and one thousand percent more smugness. I get that her job is to spin things for the Biden administration, but when your responses reek of little more than smug dismissiveness of any real problems, you’re not actually spinning. You’re just mocking Americans who are undergoing real problems right now.
When NYT reporter Michael Shear asks about the ongoing supply chain crisis, Psaki jokes about “the tragedy of the treadmill that’s delayed”
— Washington Free Beacon (@FreeBeacon) October 19, 2021
This clip, which went viral yesterday, is just one of many where Psaki has not really answered a serious question with a serious response. And this wasn’t a conservative news reporter. This was a reporter from the New York Times, an outlet that has always had the Democrats’ back.
She committed an ethics violation (which Jake Tapper at CNN grilled her on) when she said “Again, we’re going to do everything we can to help former governor McAuliffe, and we believe in the agenda he’s representing.” She said Joe Biden understands the tragedy that was innocent children getting hit by his own drone strike because he has lost family, too.
In fairness, being Biden’s press secretary is probably the worst job on the planet. At least with Trump, all his thoughts were out there on Twitter so it wasn’t very difficult to interpret what he would say. With Obama, everything was so scripted that, even during a crisis, the team had talking points ready to go that were actually reassuring Americans a bit.
But the Biden administration has a silent president and does not appear to be workshopping many of its talking points. Psaki is stumbling a bit and just swiping at reporters without really appealing to anyone.
Now, I say all this as someone who believes the White House press briefing needs to die a quick and painless death. It serves no purpose whatsoever. We definitely don’t need them daily, but really we don’t need them at all because they give us nothing we can’t find on social media. And, if we’re being brutally honest, they get way more exposure on social media than they do on any of the news networks.
That would actually work in the Biden team’s favor, too. The people who would see these talking points online are the people who spend a lot of time online, and they are the ones most likely to get really riled up (in support of or totally against) those statements. There aren’t many people who watch these clips on the national news networks, but some of these clips do trickle down into local newscasts, and that audience is much more moderate and much more upset about the rising prices than the Democrats would like.
And that’s why Jen Psaki’s absolute smugness is such an issue going forward. As things get progressively worse for the Biden administration, she will do one of two things: Respond to tough questions with more of that insulting smugness and turn off all those moderates who want inflation to start falling again or stop holding briefings entirely.
Given how poorly her comments are being received, even by friendly media, we may not be all that far off from those briefings stopping for a while. Or, we could see her decide to take another, much longer vacation.