White House press secretary Jen Psaki says she advises Biden not to take spontaneous questions from reporters

Jen Psaki
White House press secretary Jen Psaki.

  • Jen Psaki says she doesn’t advise President Biden to take impromptu questions from reporters.
  • “That is not something we recommend,” she said during an interview with David Axelrod.
  • Psaki said that she aims to keep Biden on message and free of “distractions.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in an interview released on Thursday that she doesn’t encourage President Joe Biden to field spontaneous questions from journalists who shout during press appearances.

In an interview with former White House senior advisor David Axelrod on CNN’s “The Axe Files,” Psaki said that Biden has no issues with answering impromptu questions, but revealed that the administration advises against it.

“That is not something we recommend,” she said. “In fact, a lot of times we say ‘Don’t take questions,’ you know, but he’s going to do what he wants to do because he’s the president.”

The issue came up when Axelrod asked Psaki about CNN correspondent Kaitlan Collins reportedly running into Biden at the White House and asking him if a $15 minimum wage provision would make it into the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package that he eventually signed into law in March. Biden responded at the time that he didn’t think provision would be included in the bill.

The wage increase, which was highly sought after by progressives, was left out of the final bill after Senate parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough ruled that it didn’t pass muster with budget reconciliation rules.

Psaki laughed off the encounter between Biden and Collins when Axelrod questioned if the president roaming the hallways was causing her “a lot of heartburn.”

Read more: Here’s how Biden is reshaping gender and reproductive rights with policies that are even more progressive than past Democratic presidents

“I think the thing that’s interesting is that he actually takes questions,” Psaki said. “He did a mini press conference. He takes questions nearly every day he’s out in front of the press.”

She added: “We’re never going to satisfy the White House press corps and their desires for access. And I think there have been mistakes made in the past of trying to do that.”

Psaki, who worked alongside Axelrod during the administration of former President Barack Obama, said Biden respects the role of the press, but also stressed the need to focus his time on pressing issues like the COVID-19 pandemic and the economy.

“What we’ve tried to do is not get pulled in by distractions,” she said. “There are days where if he did a press conference, the questions would be about [Rep.] Liz Cheney, [Sen.] Mitch McConnell, [Rep.] Marjorie Taylor Greene and impeachment. What we’ve tried to do in general in how we use his time is think about what the public cares about.”

During the interview with Axelrod, Psaki also signaled that she planned to step down from her role next year, citing the desire to spend more time with her two children.

Read the original article on Business Insider

White House press secretary Jen Psaki says she won’t be ‘a pushover’ when dealing with the media

Jen Psaki
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki speaks during the daily press briefing at the White House on January 25, 2021.

  • White House press secretary Jen Psaki has sought to lower the temperature in the briefing room.
  • Psaki knows that the job comes with tough questioning and strives for fact-based answers.
  • “People should know that I’m not gonna be a pushover up there,” she told The Daily Beast. 
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

While the relationship between the White House press corps and presidential administrations is always somewhat adversarial, former President Donald Trump’s relationship with the media was famous for its perpetual toxicity.

Since her debut almost three weeks ago, White House press secretary Jen Psaki has sought to lower the temperature and focus on policy.

In an interview with The Daily Beast, Psaki looked back at her first press conference, where she spoke to reporters in a collegial manner, speaking of “the role of a free and independent press in our democracy.”

This statement was a stark contrast to the rough-and-tumble personalities of former press secretaries like Sean Spicer, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and Kayleigh McEnany.

Psaki said she knows that the job comes with tough questioning and relishes the focus on facts.

“That has certainly been my perspective throughout my career, and my goal was to return to accuracy and transparency from the podium,” Psaki said. “But also [to acknowledge that] there would be moments of disagreement, and that was part of democracy, right?”

She added: “Fact sheets are back. We love facts sheets here. Making policy hip again is our goal.”

Read more: Inside the 7-minute virtual workouts the Biden transition team used to stay connected as staffers prepared to demolish Trump’s policies

Psaki and the White House communications team are already receiving largely positive reviews from the press corps, many of whom had gotten accustomed to the Trump administration’s spotty briefings and email responses.

“It’s great to have a return to briefings and a useful exchange for reporters to get their questions answered,” Associated Press White House reporter Zeke Miller told The Daily Beast. “But it’s not just about the exchange of information; it’s about the potent symbol that that forum sends around the world, but also in Washington – that the government is not above taking questions from journalists. It’s an important principle that’s good to see.”

However, Psaki’s interaction with Politico’s Anita Kumar this past week shows that the core dynamic of the press secretary’s role in pushing back has not gone away.

Psaki, who was not pleased with a question presented about the relationship between President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping, chided the White House correspondent. 

“I don’t appreciate the, like, putting words in my mouth,” Psaki said to Kumar, who was reportedly startled by the encounter.

“People should know that I’m not gonna be a pushover up there,” Psaki told The Daily Beast. “And I’m not going to allow people to put words in my mouth or misconstrue what I said. It’s important to be clear and concrete and very specific, because you’re still speaking on behalf of the government.”

Read the original article on Business Insider