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Psaki Talks About What Was ‘Scary’ In Former Job At White House

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


Former White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki took time on Friday to discuss what she found to be a “scary” part of her job.

As the literal face of the Biden administration, part of the job involved fans who wanted Psaki’s autograph or to have pictures taken with her. But she also had to deal with people who were not fans and instead wanted to harass or threaten her, similar to the treatment suffered by some of her predecessors in the administration of then-President Donald Trump.

The former press secretary’s remarks came during a forum put on by the Institute of Politics at the University of Chicago that was titled, “Notes from the Frying Pan to the Fire” last week, according to Mediate.

“Something that came up on the stage here recently was this notion that we don’t really have kind of these high profile political operatives anymore, like Karl Rove, like David Axelrod. Kellyanne. Kellyanne Conway, I would say in that category, kind of in the spotlight,” noted moderator Jennifer Steinhauer.

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“And so in this dynamic that you’re describing, you’ve sort of kind of in some ways became the personification of the administration. And that’s, whether it was kind of like the ‘Yass Kween!’ aspect of it or, you know, all the other things we just described. Did that feel weird for you? Do you feel like that’s part of this culture shift? What was that like for you personally?” Steinhauer asked?

“So because of COVID, and you know, I did not go out anywhere for I mean, a long time, as I’m sure it’s true for many people in here. And when I started this job, I don’t think I left the White House for the first two or three months. Actually, I remember the first time I tried to leave the White House, and I had worked there before, but I couldn’t figure out how to wave the badge to get out of the gate,” Psaki explained.

“And it was like shaking the gate and trying to get out to get a cup of coffee. But my point is, I, the briefing room is very small. And so when you are just doing that every day and you’re doing your job and you’re trying to do your job, you’re pretty closed off from kind of the external stuff, aside from Twitter. And I won’t focus on that,” she continued.

“And the first time that I was out in public and anyone recognized me for good, I had somebody who followed me around and was yelling shame at me at a baseball game,” Psaki noted further, adding that “my husband was very distressed by this. I was not.

“And then I also had people who wanted to take pictures. And it was very jarring because I had just been doing my job and had not been tracking that anyone would ever possibly know who I was. So that was jarring,” she explained.

“What has been the most difficult is that there are a lot of people out there who are vitriolic and I have had a lot of threats against me, against my family, names of my kids texted to me with my home address, things that are very scary. And that is when it starts to get. I don’t know. Was that the case ten, 15, 20 years ago? I’m not sure. But it is an aspect of today that is a little scarier,” she said.

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“And truth is, I can go out there. I mean, last week I was in this job five or six days ago. And, you know, I had a lot to say about Senator Rick Scott’s tax plan. Right? I don’t wish him ill. Right? I don’t wish violence against him or his family. … I wish him well. You know, I just disagree with his tax plan,” Psaki continued.

“And we’re now at a point in time where it is frightening the level of vitriol out there and as a weirdly, a semipublic-ish person. That is something that has been a part I didn’t anticipate,” she said.

Steinhauer asked Psaki if she was ever moved to report some threats to the Secret Service, to which she responded that she had.

“I’ve had to report a number of things to them over the course of time. Yes. Because you don’t know what’s what’s accurate and what’s not accurate. And you, I have like no risk aversion. But my husband, who was fortunately has a higher level than I do. It becomes alarming when your kids’ names are out there, and your home address is out there, and you’re getting threatening mail to your house. You do have to be proactive about it,” she said.

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