WASHINGTON, D.C. – Jen Psaki made her debut as White House press secretary on Wednesday and promised to bring civility, truth and transparency in her exchanges with reporters.
Psaki’s tone was much different than reporters experienced during the first briefing by Sean Spicer, former President Donald Trump’s first press secretary. Spicer criticized the media and spoke about the size of the audience at Trump’s inauguration. His successors, including Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Kayleigh McEnany, had contentious exchanges with reporters. Stephanie Grisham, who served as press secretary between Sanders and McEnany, never held a briefing.
Psaki said there inevitably would be friction between Joe Biden’s White House and reporters.
“There will be moments when we disagree, and there will certainly be days where we disagree for extensive parts of the briefing even, perhaps,” Psaki, 42, told reporters. “But we have a common goal, which is sharing accurate information with the American people.
“I have deep respect for the role of a free and independent press in our democracy and for the role all of you play.”
Psaki said there would be press briefings daily except on weekends.
“I’m not a monster,” Psaki joked.
Here are some things to know about Psaki.
Press experience: Psaki served in the Obama administration from 2009 to 2017, according to The New York Times. She moved to the State Department in 2013, where she served as a spokesperson for Secretary of State John Kerry, the newspaper reported. She previously worked for Kerry as deputy press secretary when he ran for president in 2004.
Back to tradition: For the first question, Psaki called on Zeke Miller, a reporter for The Associated Press. The move returned to the briefing room tradition that allowed the wire service reporter to ask the first question, the Times reported.
Not involved: Psaki was not involved with Biden’s campaign during 2020. Instead, she worked for CNN as a commentator and also worked for private-public relations clients, the Times reported. She was also vice president for communications and strategy at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Connecticut Yankee: Jennifer Rene Psaki was born Dec. 1, 1978, in Stamford, Connecticut, and graduated from Greenwich High School in 1996, according to the Connecticut Post. Her father, Jim Psaki, is a retired real estate developer who owned Groton Community and Groton Multifamily in Connecticut, the Times reported. He now lives in Colorado. Psaki’s mother, Eileen D. Medvey, is a psychotherapist in private practice, according to the newspaper.
College: Psaki attended the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, and graduated in 2000 with a double major in English and sociology, according to a university news release. She was a member of the swim team and Chi Omega sorority. She also served as a campus tour guide and admission intern, the university said.
Family life: Psaki married Gregory Matthew Mecher on May 1, 2010, at Woodlawn Farm in Ridge, Maryland, the Times reported. They have two children, ages 5 and 2.
“There will be moments when we disagree, and there will certainly be days where we disagree for extensive parts of the briefing even, perhaps,” she said to about a dozen journalists in the room. “But we have a common goal, which is sharing accurate information with the American people.”
For veteran reporters familiar with stormy news briefings during the Trump administration, Psaki’s briefing was polite.
“Thank you, everyone,” Psaki said as she ended the 30-minute briefing. “Let’s do this again tomorrow.”