Reviewing the Tape with Jen Psaki
By Kathleen Murphy
This Is Breakthrough Ideas ‘Lighting Up the Media.’
Jen Psaki is in a key communication position in the Biden Administration. As press secretary, her job is to communicate information about the president’s decisions, actions and events to the world via the media. After reviewing a few recent press conferences, I’d like to offer a little … constructive criticism.
First of all Jen, you’re doing amazing. So great. I mean “Circle back…” love it. Answers are good too. But promises … promises are what people really want, especially from high ranking political operatives and government bureaucrats, such as yourself.
Let’s just work through a couple examples to see where you have an opportunity to get even better:
Recently, you told reporters about the White House’s efforts to strengthen vaccine confidence in "white conservative communities." You said, "We've run PSAs on the Deadliest Catch, we're engaged with NASCAR and Country Music TV."
You know what, so you really hear this, let’s look at the tape.
OK - now, I like what you’ve done here. You cited some specific examples to make your point… and convincingly so, I might add.
Next time, you might want to … Not cite examples. There seems to still be some legwork that needs to be done by the Biden administration about what the middle of the country is actually like, who they are… what their preferences are… what their interests and concerns are…
And when you cite examples without that research informing your talking points, it kind of underscores how out of touch you and the whole Biden Administration really is.
And the problem with that is people out there with access to their own ideas might think you are condescending and incompetant. And - I am sure you weren’t aware of this - but most people are actually tired of race-baiting and stereotypes. Plus, you’re just inviting the question, ‘Where are you advertising to engage the Black Community…?’ Think through that one…
But, oh right, the media isn’t going to challenge you (laugh)... it’s not like you’re a Republican …
Which brings me to my next point: Have your staff instruct the press - especially reporters from MSNBC, CNN and Washington Post - to make it seem like they’re asking tougher questions or at least ask them to tone down the gushing and compliments (Everyone already thinks you’re a breath of fresh air anyway). The softball questions and lack of follow up kind of looks like it is all … a set up - especially after the inquisitions the media put the last administrations’ press secretaries through.
You wouldn’t want some wiley member of the public to take getting real information from you into his own hands, and sneak into a press conference to ask unscripted questions. You might end up looking a little silly… what? Oh, that already happened…??
Oh… Well, luckily this leads right into the next opportunity for you: Practice answering tough questions. It will help you respond better on those RARE occasions that you’re confronted with actual criticism or concerns about President Biden’s ability to lead… like this:
Remember millions of Americans don’t share your views, sooo…. Practicing your responses to criticism will help to make you appear concerned and gracious… rather than annoyed and condescending.
To wrap this up - with the very constructive criticism I’ve offered here, you have done some really solid groundwork to establish yourself as the media’s favorite press secretary. We’re all very excited to see where you go from here.