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April 13, 2023
In an interview with Vogue, White House press secretary Jen Psaki describes her disdain for being called “nice,” saying that the word is sexist.
Psaki sat down with Vogue’s Lizzie Widdicombe for a detailed profile, including her brushes with sexism in her role as the face of the Biden administration. “It is like nails on a chalkboard, and it still happens,” says Psaki. “I was introduced to a foreign delegation in the hallway the other day as ‘This is Jen. You may have seen her do the briefings. She’s a really nice person.’ I’m like, Really? You can’t think of a better description?” (Vogue).
The coverage reads “the word is sexist and a little diminishing” before Psaki goes on to say, “it’s also this desire to put people in a box. Yes, sometimes I’m friendly and joyful, and sometimes I’m tough, and sometimes I’m straightforward.”
Psaki got her start in politics when she became a door-knocker with the Iowa Democratic Party, then in 2008, she joined the Obama campaign prior to the Democratic primaries. Under that campaign, she was assigned to manage the flock of press trailing the former president throughout his candidacy.
During the Obama administration, she was up for the press-secretary position twice but was passed over both times. Instead, she became a top communications official at the State Department and White House (Independent). Psaki recalled Biden’s first words to her after she took the position, “The first thing he said to me was ‘We need to be aligned on tone,’ or, really, he needs me to be aligned with him,” she commented. “He said, ‘We are a healing country whose nerves have been frayed. It’s just a little bit frantic. We need to be projecting calm, openness to engagement, governing for all people.’”
About the new press secretary, Widdicombe wrote: “When Psaki first appeared in the press briefing room, in January 2021, there was a collective swoon from roughly half the country.” She added, “This was largely due to what she was not doing: berating the assembled reporters, griping about CNN’s coverage of a presidential tweet, or spouting flagrant, easily disprovable lies.”
Of course, Widdicombe was contrasting Psaki against former press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, who many conservatives feel has been “snubbed” by Vogue. Rachel Campos-Duffy, Fox & Friends co-host, claimed the magazine had “failed” readers by neglecting to cover notable women in the Trump administration like Melania Trump.
Campos-Duffy stated, “Likewise, politics and hate for Trump and conservative women in particular, drove their decision to snub Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany.” She described McEnany as “so demonstrably superior to Jen Psaki…Not just in beauty and style, but also intelligence and sheer communication skills.”
ARTICLE: ELIZABETH HERTZBERG
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: MARIECLAIRE.COM