White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday that President Joe Biden’s lack of official press conferences is more of a media problem than an issue for the American people.
‘I think that’s more of an issue related to the White House press corps … and D.C. press, than it is of concern to the American public,’ Psaki said in an interview that was part of a Politico Women Rule livestream event.
Psaki answered a definitive ‘yes’ when asked if Vice President Kamala Harris was receiving more criticism because of her status as a woman of color, and also admitted that one of her toughest lessons in the job came after she mocked Space Force.
Press secretary Jen Psaki (right) answered questions from Politico’s Anita Kumar during a Women Rule livestreamed event Wednesday. She said it was more of a media problem than an issue for the American public that President Joe Biden has held so few press conferences
Psaki pointed to Biden’s habit of doing more casual Q&As with White House reporters, when he travels or at events, arguing he probably answers more questions that way than by holding formal press conferences
Psaki, being interviewed by Politico’s Anita Kumar, pushed back on the idea that Biden was in any way press shy.
Biden has eschewed formal press conferences for more casual Q&A with reporters when he travels or during events.
When he does hold a press conference, he’s made it standard practice to call on a pre-set list of reporters.
‘I would say that it’s the job of every journalist to push for more access. That’s their job. And if we granted access every time a journalist asked for an interview or access we probably wouldnt necessarily be doing our jobs,’ Psaki said.
She argued that the debate over press conferences is ‘misunderstood’ because ‘it’s really about how any president uses their time or how they engage with the media.’
‘But it’s just not accurate to suggest that he isn’t accessible or doesn’t answer questions,’ she added.
She argued that Biden, at a standard press conference, might only answer 10 to 15 questions, while he answers ’20, 30 questions a week,’ in the more casual encounters.
‘President Biden has answered questions twice as many times at these events than President Trump did at this point at time,’ Psaki also argued.
Kumar asked Psaki about her own job performance, wondering what she considered her biggest mistake.
She said she regretted mocking Space Force weeks into the administration.
‘I regret being flippant in that moment and I don’t think there’s a lot of space and room for flippancy in that room because the issues we’re talking about are so important,’ she noted.
Bloomberg’s Josh Wingrove had asked if the president planned to keep Space Force, the military’s sixth branch, which was championed by Trump, but supported by lawmakers in both political parties.
‘Wow, Space Force. It’s the plane of today,’ she replied – referring to being asked if Biden planned to keep the color scheme Trump wanted for the redesigned Air Force One.
Psaki said she regretted mocking the Space Force during the opening weeks of the administration. ‘It kind of has a funny name, even though their work is very important,’ she said Wednesday
Psaki said she wasn’t sure if it was her ‘biggest mistake.’
‘But it’s one that stuck with me because I think it had an important lesson. And I hadn’t spent a lot of time thinking about Space Force, clearly at the time, it kind of has a funny name, even though their work is very important,’ she explained.
‘And I kind of gave a funny, flippant answer. And the lesson I took from that is – and I knew this – there’s a huge responsibility in speaking on behalf of the government,’ she continued. ‘But even in moments where you want to be be – you might make a joke like you’re at dinner – you’re not. You’re speaking on behalf of the U.S. government.’
She said that while she knew she didn’t need to be serious at every moment, ‘you need to take every question seriously.’
Psaki also admitted over the course of the interview that she sometimes has trouble controlling her temper in the briefing room.
‘I’m an Irish person,’ she said, and ‘get a little hot.’
Psaki also said that she wasn’t sure when her end date at the administration would be yet.
She originally signed on to stay through the first year.
Psaki came to the defense of Vice President Kamala Harris over the weekend and gave a succinct answer when Kumar asked her if Harris was receiving more criticism because she’s the first woman and the first woman of color to serve as vice president.
‘Yes,’ Psaki answered.
‘Criticism from the outside. Absolutely,’ she stated after a pause.
‘I do think it’s been easier and harsher from some on the right-wing who have gone after her because she is the first woman, the first woman of color,’ the press secretary added.
Psaki answered a definitive ‘yes’ when asked if Vice President Kamala Harris (pictured) was receiving more criticism because of her status as a woman of color
Psaki said that while it may never be acknowledged publicly there is ‘no question’ that the attacks on Harris are in part because she’s a first ‘many times over.’
‘It’s a lot to have on your shoulders,’ Psaki said, adding that while Harris wants to be seen as the ‘talented, experienced expert, substantive policy person, partner to the president’ that she is, instead some of the attacks are ‘beyond’ – and they’re because of her identity.
Kumar wanted to know if those attacks were seeping in and impacting Harris’ approval ratings, which are a historic low for vice presidents.
‘I think we’ve seen, it’s not a secret Anita, some drop in approval ratings across the board,’ Psaki answered. ‘We are very sober about that fact that there are some challenges, real challenges people are going through in this country. We’re working to try to fix them.’
‘All of them go back to COVID,’ she said after listing a number of challenges.
She argued that the president and vice president would be the first to say the ‘buck stops here.’
And the White House was trying to get work done and not worry about the numbers too much.
‘Hopefully the polls will follow,’ Psaki said.