After four years of extreme tension between the news media and Donald Trump’s White House, new White House press secretary Jen Psaki promises a much more respectful and informative relationship under Joe Biden’s administration.
“I think more than at any other time in history, and I don’t want to be too dramatic … part of the White House press secretary’s job is to rebuild trust with the American people,” he said. said Psaki Told National Public Radio in an interview released Thursday.
“My daily goal will, of course, be to be honest and transparent and to help lift the curtains not just for the media and reporters, of course it’s the people in the room, but for the American people,” she told me.
Without naming his four predecessors who served Trump, Psaki’s comments can be interpreted as criticism of them, all accused of dodging transparency and peddling lies to reporters.
Trump’s presidency began four years ago with his then press secretary, Sean Spicer, mistakenly claiming that Trump had “the largest public ever to attend an inauguration – period – both in person and in the whole world”. And Trump’s presidency ends with his current press secretary, Kaleigh McEnany, pushing conspiracy theories and unproven allegations of election fraud from the White House boardroom.
Another key difference from the Trump administration’s press relations, Psaki noted, will be a significant reduction in anonymous leaks from inside the White House. For the past four years, journalists have reveled in leaks from sources close to Trump, many of whom have spoken to reporters to settle internal political scores or, in some cases, to shed light on what was perceived to be. the dangerous upheaval of standards.
“I have said this to some reporters, anyone who is covering only the Trump administration and looking to continue shooting ‘Game of Thrones’ type personnel, they will be deeply disappointed,” Psaki said. “Our goal is for there to be a return to political processes, policy briefings, and political experts who are going to be there to explain what a COVID package can look like or what we are going to do on immigration.”
While many journalists welcome Psaki and the promise of a return to the less seemingly combative pre-Trump relationship between the White House and the press, others are raising red flags. Some point out that Biden, as well as the former Obama-Biden administration, doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to transparency or even dealing with the press.
“Biden proved during the election campaign that he does not like pointed and awkward questions like those on ‘the court case’, and spoke to reporters rather than responding succinctly,” wrote Politico editor-in-chief Jack Shafer earlier this month. “He criticized a journalist who asked him questions about his cognitive abilities. And he lashed out at a reporter who asked him about the New York Post coverage of his son Hunter. Not very open. Not very transparent. “
Harold Holzer, former congressional press secretary and author of The Presidents and the Press, told the Associated Press news agency earlier this month that many White House reporters “were horrified by their treatment in the Obama administration ”.
“They were told to check the White House website for answers to their questions, Obama never showed up… unless it was to go and give a cupcake on someone’s birthday. ‘one, he didn’t respond to FOIA requests,’ Holzer said.
On top of that, many Washington reporters recall the aggressive stance taken by the Obama administration in dealing with the leaks of sensitive information.
The Foundation for Freedom of the Press Noted that the Obama administration has jailed a record number of government sources of journalists.
Obama’s Justice Department prosecuted more people under the 1917 Espionage Act for leaking sensitive information to the public than all previous administrations combined, the AP reported.
As part of its investigations into the leaks, the Justice Department of Obama’s Attorney General Eric Holder combed through confidential communications between government sources and reporters.
It was revealed that during their investigations, the Justice Department obtained telephone tapes from a Fox News reporter as well as several AP reporters. In the case of Fox reporter James Rosen, the Department of Justice also obtained a warrant to search his personal emails, tracking his movements inside and outside the State Department, which he said. reported, and ultimately named him a potential criminal. co-conspirator ”.
The NPR asked Psaki directly if the Biden administration would return to the days of aggressive management of the leaks, but she did not respond directly.
“Obviously, there are different circumstances, as you well know, that arose during the Obama administration,” Psaki said. “And a number of them were overseen by the Department of Justice at the time. President-elect Biden has yet to even choose an attorney general. “
“But one of his priorities is to bring this department back to an independent department, which has no political influence from the White House, which will be a radical departure from our current situation.”