“Half of America is smitten with [White House Press Secretary] Jen Psaki, while a swath of the White House press corps [are] taken with how polite she is…. While Trumpites gleefully performed belligerence on camera, Psaki’s tone is measured and warm; … she’ll ask after your kids or your spouse … She’s sunny and can make people feel good about their interactions.”
Jessica Goldstein, Washingtonian, May 5, 2021
That the US “news” media would praise Biden press secretary Jen Psaki and contrast her with Trump’s press secretaries is not surprising. Psaki represents a Democrat president and the “news” media, which are predominately Democrats are in their Biden-protection mode. Illustrating the psychological phenomenon of “confirmation bias”, the tendency of people to see what they want to see, Jessica Goldstein gushes that half of America is “smitten” with Jen Psaki and, contrasting her with the “belligerent” “Trumpites,” gushes again that “a swath of the White House press corps sound quite taken with how polite she is.”
The celebrated “journalist” ABC News Chief Washington correspondent Jonathan Karl gushes too: It would “be a disservice to compare” Psaki “to her [Republican] predecessors (Sean Spicer, Sarah Sanders, Stephanie Grisham, Kayleigh McEnany)” because Psaki is “one of the most well-qualified press secretaries we’ve ever had.”
Yes, of course. It would be a great “disservice” to compare Psaki the Great to lowly Republicans Sean Spicer or Kayleigh McEnany. After all, Psaki has a Bachelor’s degree from William and Mary in English and Sociology and has worked for a series of Democrat political campaigns (Tom Harkin, Tom Vilsack, John Kerry and of course Obama the Great).
By contrast, Kayleigh, with that distressing “R” behind her name, only studied at Oxford for a year and has a Harvard J.D., much less impressive than a Bachelor’s degree and a series of political jobs. Similarly, Sean Spicer, also branded with that distressing “R” behind his name, cannot compare to Psaki the Great because he only has a Bachelor’s degree from Connecticut College, a Master’s Degree in national security and strategic studies from the U.S. Naval War College, worked for multiple Republican political campaigns, holds the rank of Commander in the United States Naval Reserve as a public affairs officer, was assigned to the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s naval reserve contingent in Washington D.C., and in 2017 was a member of the Department of Defence Criminal Investigative Task Force.
Of course, Psaki the Great never accomplished anything remotely similar to Spicer but she does have the distinct advantage that the Democrat half of America and the D.C. Press Corps are smitten with her.
Leaving qualifications aside and focussing on actual performance, what Karl dislikes about Kayleigh, in contrast to Psaki the Great, is that under Kayleigh
Press briefings have become political. She has a duty to inform the American people … [but her] press conferences [attempt] to vilify [and] discredit the press, and not really to give much information, … We have to get back to the notion that the White House press secretary is a public servant and not a political spokesperson.
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It is easy to see that what really bothers Karl about Kayleigh is that she “vilifies” and “discredits” the press. As a member of the press, he doesn’t like that. He prefers the old system where the press vilifies whoever it wants, like Donald Trump with their absurd Russian collusion hoax (“The walls are closing in”), the Lafayette Park Bible photo op hoax, their Hunter Biden laptop is Russian disinformation hoax, etc., while abused conservatives are not permitted to fight back because that is “vilifying” the press. Sorry Karl, but we don’t accept the rigged game anymore. It has not, apparently, occurred to Karl that Kayleigh would not have to discredit the press if it would start doing its job and hold both sides equally to account—making it possible for Kayleigh to be just as polite as Psaki the Great.
But doesn’t Karl have a point that Kayleigh is less than truthful in some of her responses? One of the incidents Karl cites is the time when Kayleigh criticized the press for saying that Trump’s Mount Rushmore speech “contributed to the culture war” and “Then, the president [Trump], less than 24 hours later, says, ‘This is a culture war.’”
Surely Karl has caught her here. That is a contradiction if ever there was one. It is not as if Psaki the Great ever did anything remotely similar—not as if she ever contradicted John Kerry about Biden’s knowledge of French fury at the US-Australia submarine deal.
In fact, however, there is no contradiction between Kayleigh’s complaint about the press and Trump’s later remark that “this is a culture war.” Kayleigh objected to the media’s claim that Trump’s Rushmore speech “contributes” to this war (i.e., makes it worse)—not to the claim that there is a culture war. When you are in a knife fight in a back alley with a thug and you punch back after he has punched you, it would not be accurate for a “journalist” covering the fight to say that you are “contributing” to the fight, that is, making things worse by fighting back (not, of course, unless you are a Republican and the thug is a Democrat). Kayleigh’s point was that by identifying the culture war Trump was not making it worse.
In fact, Karl’s accusation against Kayleigh illustrates a common tactic of the “press (which does not mean they are self-aware enough to know they are doing it). Note that in the present case, there would only be one way for Kayleigh to escape Karl’s criticism, namely, for her to admit that Trump, by identifying a social problem (the culture war), is contributing to it! In that case, the only way a conservative can avoid this criticism is to stop identifying social problems – leaving the Left to have their way with things. They would love that.
This media’s Democrat-protection racket was exposed again when it was announced that Psaki would be making an ethically problematic move from WH Press secretary to MSNBC alongside “its glittering cast of fake-news all-stars like Joy Reid, Al Sharpton, Chuck Todd, Mike Barnicle, and Rachel Maddow,” prompting the following observation,
White House reporters, who occasionally felt obligated to appear as if they are actual journalists rather than Democrat cheerleaders, asked Psaki about the questionable ethics of the move. One delicately broached the subject: “[Since] this has been raised by our colleagues: Is it ethical for you to continue conducting this job while negotiating with a media outlet?” Psaki assured the press room’s trained seals that she had gone “over and above the stringent ethical and legal requirements of the Biden administration.”
That is, Psaki simply informed her “smitten” Press fan club that she has conducted an ethical review of herself and decided that she is blameless. C’est moi, c’est moi, ’tis I. Of course, there was no pushback from the “trained seals” in her fan club. The reason for the “delicate” treatment and lack of pushback is that “It was all theatre. … The truth is that Psaki leaving the Biden Administration to work for MSNBC simply confirms what we have all known for a long time. Members of the mainstream media are Democrats with press passes — nothing more.”
Although smitten “journalists” may, with equal measures of sloppy reasoning and self-glorifying sanctimony, lecture the “deplorables” that Psaki sees herself as “a public servant” with “a duty to inform the American people,” it is noteworthy that even Goldstein’s grovelling paean to Psaki admits that “It’s one of those weird things. You leave [Psaki’s Press briefings] feeling good … [then] you realize: F—, she said nothing helpful.”
By Richard McDonough
Richard Michael McDonough, American philosophy educator. Achievements include production of original interpretation of Wittgenstein’s logical-metaphysical system, original application Kantian Copernican Revolution to philosophy of language; significant interdisciplinary work logic, linguistics, psychology & philosophy. Member Australasian Debating Federation (honorary life, adjudicator since 1991), Phi Kappa Phi. Richard is a regular contributor to The Blue State Conservative.
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Featured photo by White House, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons