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Look, Shiny Normal Thing! First White House Presser Of Biden Era
No theatrics, no talk of crowd size. What are these people UP to?
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki held her first White House press briefing yesterday, and surprised many by taking questions and answering them without sounding the least bit defensive or snotty to the assembled reporters. There wasn't a bit of drama at all, so of course that threw social media for a loop, with people raving about how remarkably unremarkable the whole thing was. Psaki even promised to keep holding pressers every weekday, though she added that there would be no weekend press briefings because, she asserted, "I'm not a monster." Here's the entire 31-minute briefing, cued up to its actual start time for your convenience:
Did you notice how she didn't accuse any of the reporters of being fake news, or of being out to destroy Joe Biden? Weird!
Psaki instead reviewed the suite of executive actions Biden had taken in the afternoon, and then without any ado took questions, not even commenting on whether reporters wore face masks, because they all did.
This is definitely going to take some getting used to.
There not being a huge amount of news from the administration just yet, Psaki fielded a fairly predictable question from the Associated Press's Zeke Miller about whether she saw her primary duty as promoting the Biden agenda (socialism, martyring conservatives, and a good ham on rye), or being truthful with the American People. Both! she said, because one of the things Biden seeks to do, beyond selling us out to his Chinese overlords, is to restore trust in institutions by being truthful and transparent.
It was, to say the least, a marked contrast to the very first press room outing by Sean Spicer, the first of a seemingly endless string of Trump press secretaries, in which an aggrieved Spicer insisted that more people had watched Donald Trump's inauguration than have actually lived on the planet in recorded history. Remember that madness?
As it happens, Spicer appears to have noticed the contrast, or at least noticed a Fox News story about it.
Tale of two briefings: Jen Psaki treated much differently by press than Sean Spicer https://t.co/eZdfbExTRU
— Sean Spicer (@Sean Spicer) 1611257822.0
The article decries the softball questions Psaki got, contrasting them to the more aggressive treatment Spicer got in his first official presser, which came two days after he straight out lied to reporters and hectored them as monsters for suggesting Trump's inauguration wasn't the most-attended event in human history, by showing pictures of Trump's and Obama's inagurations side by side.
Just look at your lying eyes!
Not that Fox says Spicer lied, heavens no. Rather, he simply
held an unofficial briefing the day after the inauguration when he famously read a statement about the administration feeling that the media inaccurately reported the inauguration crowd size.
Yep, no telling why anyone in the press room might have come in loaded for bear, especially since Trump and those around him had always been so famously truthful. Particularly not after Kellyanne Conway had calmly explained between the two briefings that Spicer had merely shared some "alternative facts."
The closest thing to shade thrown in yesterday's presser came when Psaki, who wore a paper filter mask under a cloth face covering, subtweeted the entire Trump White House by saying that Biden "has also asked us to be models for the American people," leaving the unlike you-know-who for viewers to fill in. She took a question about whether Biden intends to keep the new color scheme Trump had ordered every bit as seriously as it deserved, deadpanning, "This is such a good question! [...] I have not had the opportunity to dig into that today."
And then everyone got on Twitter and talked about how good Allison Janney was in "The West Wing," and UMass Amherst political scientist Paul Musgrave asked the question we all wondered about:
But can Psaki do “The Jackal”?
— Paul Musgrave (@Paul Musgrave) 1611189480.0
Also, the Associated Press noted this was the first White House press briefing since December 15, 2020, and that in her tenure as Trump's final press secretary (April 2020 to January 15, 2021 ) Kayleigh McEnany had only shown up to brief the press 42 times. Sometimes McEnany wouldn't take questions, and when she did, she tended to lie a lot. If Psaki holds a daily presser as expected, she'll surpass McEnany's career total sometime in April.
Psaki promised that the tone of White House briefings would change, and to prove it, she didn't even call the ever-shifting Trump comms teams a mob of lying fucks who couldn't give a straight answer if they had a laser level and a plumb bob. Instead, she sounded like virtually any press secretary from the Before Times, saying,
There will be moments when we disagree, and there will certainly be days where we disagree for extensive parts of the briefing even, perhaps. But we have a common goal, which is sharing accurate information with the American people.
So that was pretty good, all in all. Once we all get used to having a White House that isn't run by rabid wallabies, we're sure we'll eventually be ready for pressers where there's a frustrating refusal to move past talking points, but for now, please keep mainlining all this normal into our veins.
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