White House press secretary Jen Psaki was called out by a reporter after she claimed during a press briefing on Friday that she does not respond to “anonymous reports or anonymous sources.”
Bloomberg News’ senior White House correspondent, Jennifer Jacobs, took to Twitter to accuse the press secretary of being hypocritical while going on to claim that Psaki’s staff “regularly organizes anonymous briefings on topics in the news.”
“I try not to speak to or engage on anonymous reports or anonymous sources,” says @PressSec Jen Psaki, whose team regularly organizes anonymous briefings on topics in the news. https://t.co/wmPMxEp5ps
— Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) July 2, 2021
Jacobs was responding to a statement made by Psaki to Fox News’ White House correspondent, Peter Doocy, in which he asked whether the administration was concerned about recent reports claiming there is an “abusive environment” within Vice President Kamala Harris’ office.
“I try not to speak to or engage on anonymous reports or anonymous sources,” Psaki said.
Later, following Jacobs’ tweet, Psaki attempted to decribe the difference, noting a difference between stories that are allegedly political in nature and are concocted by rivals versus briefings on background, with are provided without attribution, that her office regularly provides to the media.
“I think everyone knows the difference between attacking someone as an anonymous source and providing details on a policy announcement to reporters in an effort to provide information and answer media questions,” Psaki said in response to Jacobs.
The New York Times’ White House correspondent, Peter Baker, acknowledged Psaki’s point but nevertheless pressed her about the anonymous briefings anyway.
“Point taken. And this is true with every White House,” Baker wrote on Twitter. “But with all respect, why should ‘providing details on a policy announcement’ be done anonymously in a transparent and open democratic society?”
As of this writing, Psaki had not yet responded to Baker’s inquiry directly.
Steven Dennis, another Bloomberg News reporter, also noted that he supported more transparency from the Biden administration.
“The default should be briefings are on the record. I’ve never understood why WH’s insist on a process where transcripts are sent out quoting nameless SAOs [senior administration officials],” he noted. “This is obviously a long-standing practice, but I always chafed under it when I covered the White House.”
As for Doocy’s question, last week Politico, citing interviews with nearly two dozen current and former Harris staffers, described the work environment in the vice president’s office as chaotic and demeaning.
Noting that Harris’ staff was “blindsided” by her announced visit to El Paso, her first to the U.S.-Mexico border after being assigned by President Joe Biden to deal with the worsening situation, Politico went on to point out that it was just the “latest chaotic moment for a staff that’s quickly become mired in them.”
“Harris’ team is experiencing low morale, porous lines of communication and diminished trust among aides and senior officials,” the outlet continued. “Much of the frustration internally is directed at Tina Flournoy, Harris’ chief of staff, a veteran of Democratic politics who began working for her earlier this year.”
Fox News’ Tucker Carlson cited the report on Friday during an entire program dedicated to Harris, in which he suggested she was much more in charge of the White House than Biden though she was not a popular choice to lead even among 2020 Democratic primary voters.
“There’s a pattern here. First, Kamala Harris takes control of a task she doesn’t understand. Then she makes it worse. ‘Let’s help women in the workforce,’ she says, then proceeds to drive women out of her own office,” Carlson said.
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