One Reason the Biden White House Has Avoided Feuding With Fox News

From a story on by Tommy Christopher headlined “Jen Psaki Reveals One Reason Biden White House Has Avoided Feuding With Fox News: Trump”:

Former White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki revealed that former President Donald Trump was a major reason she and President Joe Biden‘s press team have tried to avoid feuding with Fox News.

Psaki participated in a forum at the Institute of Politics at the University of Chicago entitled “Notes from the Frying Pan to the Fire.”

IOP Speaker Series director Jennifer Steinhauer moderated the discussion, and wasted no time in broaching the subject of Fox News.

“So I’m just going to get this out of the way. We’re just going to do the Doocy,” Steinhauer said, to a smattering of laughter.

Psaki made some well-worn observations about her “professional” relationship with Peter Doocy, but also revealed a few new insights that included the fact that the Trump administration’s “disputing the legitimacy of institutions or the media” was a factor in trying to avoid feuds with Fox News and an admission that her bouts with Doocy may have been “performative”:

JENNIFER STEINHAUER: We’re just going to do the Doocy… The country was sort of mesmerized by these weekly, or often more than that, sparring that you had with the Fox News reporter in the briefing room. Some people think that you hate each other. Some people think you secretly have brunch. … So I’m curious, what was your true role of those moments in the briefing room, and what was your approach there?

JEN PSAKI: Sure. First, let me say that I do like Peter Doocy, and that may not be popular with everybody. That’s okay. But part of the objective when I came into this job was to reestablish civility in the briefing room and make it a place where people could hear information through the media, to the public, not a place where there wasn’t debate and tough questioning. Actually, when that is happening, in my view, that’s when it’s working. And that’s an important part of our democracy, not just in the United States, but it’s also a message we’re sending to the world. This is not a common thing that other countries do, where there’s three briefings nearly every day that happen in the U.S. government.

Peter — So we made a decision from the beginning that part of restoring civility was treating people with respect in the briefing room, with, to calling on everyone, including Fox, which didn’t always have positive reporting about the President or the vice president, and not making a dispute with Fox the story. And there are times when that may be appropriate, but not when you follow an administration where they were disputing the legitimacy of institutions or the media.

And so, you know, we began a lot of these sparring, it became sparring because he would ask questions. He wrote the questions a lot of times, sometimes I’m sure they were worked out with people he worked with at Fox. They represented what Fox was talking about on that day. And you could sometimes often predict what they might be. Right? It skewed a lot more about immigration and the border and the vice president and all sorts of things that may not have always been… Were — they wanted to make into a controversy.

But I will say, at the end of the day, we did not brunch, but we also didn’t hate each other. It was somewhere in between. What I will say is that we had a civil, good relationship, I will say.

What I will say is there is a good question to be posed. Maybe someone will pose this or will not. I’ll pose it for you. We had a good relationship. We had a sparring in the briefing room. Is that performative? Maybe it is, right? And what does it say about the fact that we had that back and forth in the briefing room, and on social media I was cheered for pushing back on Peter Doocy, and he was cheered for pushing back on me. And in many ways, as much as we had a civil, good, professional relationship that does speak to kind of the division in society and what social media does and drives.

Of course, President Biden has had limited success at the avoidance strategy, most infamously when he called Doocy a “stupid son of a bitch” on a hot mic.


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