Morning anchor Steve Inskeep had asked about how Team Biden would handle Fox, since Obama had a fairly hostile relationship. Psaki pointed out she granted an interview to Chris Wallace, but would never do so for Sean Hannity.
But which type represents the Fox reporters at the White House? Psaki insisted she’s no pushover for right-wing Acosta types: “We’re not going to allow the briefing room to be a platform for propaganda, and we will shut that down as needed as well.”
Inskeep, a favorite pushover for Barack Obama, asked about the “right-wing media ecosystem” explicitly:
INSKEEP: How do you think you will engage the right-wing media ecosystem, if I can call it that? I’m thinking of networks like Fox, but also OAN and Newsmax that have larger and larger audiences. And some of them, like Fox, have, at least on a basic level, acknowledged that Joe Biden won the election. Others are pushing completely discredited theories, but they’re all going to be there. They’re all going to have an audience, and they’re all going to have questions for you.
Psaki compared these upstart networks to propaganda organs for Russia or China:
PSAKI: That’s right. And you know, Steve, again, just to go back to how valuable I find and how much I’ll rely on my experience at the State Department — there were many, many days where there were “journalists” — I’m air quoting that — who are from Russia or China, essentially arms of the government, you know, arms of the state-run media. And we let them in the briefing room, and they ask questions, and sometimes I had a little fun with them, you know, about who they were asking the question on behalf of.
Inskeep asked about leaking under Biden: “There was an astonishing amount of leaking to the media during the Trump administration. And of course, if you’re a critic of Trump, you would argue that was mostly for the public good.”
Psaki boasted “I’ve told some journalists this, anybody who covered only the Trump administration who’s looking for a continuation of the Game of Thrones-style personnel sniping, they will be sorely disappointed.”
At least Inskeep wasn’t a pushover on how Obama’s Justice Department acted toward journalists. He pushed Psaki with this: “President Obama’s administration aggressively prosecuted leakers of classified information and that spilled over into investigating journalists, obtaining journalists’ phone records, tracking their comings and goings from government agencies. Does this administration mean to do the same?”
Psaki insisted “Obviously, there are different circumstances, as you well know, that came up during the Obama administration,” but she avoided saying “no.” She insisted the Biden administration would have an independent Attorney General…so if anyone’s tracking journalists, don’t blame the president?
“I think that was an elegant evasion of the question,” Inskeep said, and then he laughed.