Byline: Glenn Townes
I have watched, attended, and covered plenty of press conferences over the years, including a few that featured former presidents of the United States, his associates, or press secretary. Recently, I smiled, sparkled with glee, and rejoiced when I watched President Joe Bidens’ new press secretary, Jen Psaki, answer questions from fellow journalists. Psaki was on point, direct, and clear in all of her responses. If she didn’t know the answer to the question, she would say so and promised to follow up with the reporter later. Some of my sources and colleagues tell me that she did follow through on her promise in later providing correct and accurate information.
The White House press briefing is and should be sacred. It’s a place where journalists from across the country gather daily, weekly or biweekly to obtain accurate and complete information from the POTUS spokesperson. It is an event that has been disgraced, embarrassed, humiliated, and non-existent at various times throughout the prior administration of Donald Trump. I grimace, smirk, sneer and roll my eyes when I hear or read the names of the list of fallen press secretaries of Don the Con–including Sean Spicer, Sara Huckabee Sanders, Stephanie Grisham, and Kayleigh McEnany.
Without a doubt, each of the former POTUS press secretaries tripped, stumbled, and fell flat more times than anyone can count. To their credit, they gallantly attempted to espouse false information to the public that included doctored photos and graphs, incomplete or inaccurate quotes, amid phony promises of transparency.When I think back to Spicer’s short, less than 2-month tenure, memories of his big fib about the number of attendees at Trump’s inauguration immediately come to mind. Spicer said the crowd at the inauguration was the largest ever at such an event. The lie was later referred to by Trump advisors as not a lie but an “alternative fact.” I think back to Sara Huckabee’s Sanders near 2-year reign of lies, doubletalk, and how recanted statements became frequent trademarks of her infrequent press briefings and sullied reputation. For the third wheel, Stephanie Grisham, she opted not to ever hold one press briefing during her 9-month stint as press secretary. Some speculate that her well-documented bad habit of boozing it up and getting behind the wheel of a car and skipping court hearings would have made for a more exciting press briefing than the Trump wall. And the last press secretary was Kayleigh McEnany–the blonde bombshell attempted to eschew the long-held stereotype of the ditzy blonde by earning a law degree from Harvard University. On her first day, she promised never to lie to us in the media. She fibbed the next day. She also lied when she told a reporter that President Trump was “concerned” about African Americans and defended his frequent use of racist and derogatory language. CNN anchor Don Lemon put it best–tweeting a personal message to McEnany, “Girl, Bye!”
I recently got into a verbal spat of sorts with a friend on FB friend who criticized other journalists and me for treating McEniny and Suckabee Sanders..uh, I mean, McEnany and Huckabee Sanders mean and unfairly by always asking the tough questions. For example, the FB friend said that those of us in
the media are liberal extremists. I argued. I asked him how requesting that someone be honest or admitting that you don’t know the answer to something is extremist fodder? I’m still waiting for a convincing and plausible response.
At any rate, Jen Psaki has gotten off to a great start as President Biden’s press secretary. I’m sure she will undoubtedly have some periodic clashes with the media in the future. I hope that some much-needed complacency, order, and dare I say it, normalcy and respectability will become a staple of White House press briefings like it was before 2017. I’ll echo what Don Lemon said with a twist to Jen Psaki, “Hi, Girl!”