An interview between CNN+ host Chris Wallace and White House press secretary Jen Psaki that was streamed Wednesday included the host both slavishly praising and mildly slamming the secretary.
The slavish adoration came at the end when Wallace waxed poetic about Psaki’s upcoming White House departure and praised her for allegedly “restoring some much-needed civility to the White House briefing room.”
“Jen Psaki, thank you. We’re going to miss you behind the podium, and if you end up at a cable channel other than this one, I promise I will watch you,” he told the White House press secretary as the interview concluded.
Addressing his audience, Wallace continued, “The job of a White House press secretary is tricky. You represent the president, but you’re paid by the American people. Handling those sometimes dueling obligations is a delicate balance.”
“But Jen has done as good a job at it as any press secretary I can remember while restoring some much-needed civility to the White House briefing room. She’ll be missed,” the host added.
The interview came six days after Psaki endorsed the theory that Fox News’ Peter Doocy, seemingly the only White House correspondent who regularly asks her tough questions, sounds like “a stupid son of a b—ch.”
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) April 15, 2022
At one point during the interview, Wallace did at least ask a semi-tough question: “Why has President Biden been so sheltered from the press?”
Psaki responded with confusion and denial.
“In what way? He just did a press conference several weeks ago, and he takes questions from the press nearly every day,” she said.
Wallace, to his credit, replied with some facts.
“I’m gonna come back at you on that. In his first year, Joe Biden held two solo news conferences in the White House, and he held five on foreign trips. And take a look at this: In his first year, Mr. Biden sat down for 28 interviews with reporters. That compares to 95 in the same period of time for Donald Trump and 162 for Barack Obama. By comparison, Jen, that’s sheltered,” he said.
Psaki responded by trying to change the goalposts.
“Nearly every day at the White House, he takes questions from the White House press corps. Two questions, three questions, eight questions. So why is that different?” she said.
But Wallace, again to his credit, wasn’t impressed.
“Yeah, but Jen … I’ll tell you exactly why that’s different. Because when you’re standing there, you can take a question, you can answer it, you can slough it off and you move on,” he said.
“It in no way compares to sitting down with a reporter for 20 minutes, 30 minutes and having — you can’t move away. You can’t duck it. You gotta sit there and answer the question and the follow up. It’s not the same thing.”
No, it’s demonstrably not, but Psaki called for them to “agree to disagree.”
“We can agree to disagree on that, Chris. I think how he has felt engaging with the press makes sense to him or works, is how he used to do it in the Senate, which was to talk to reporters after he did events, take their questions,” she said.
“Oftentimes he takes multiple questions. Sometimes there are follow-ups. He’s done that two or three times more than most of his predecessors. And I think that for most of the White House reporters, that gives them an opportunity to ask questions often multiple times a week.”
The sycophantic ending of the interview received far more social media scrutiny than the only slightly tense grilling.
Jon Nicosia, formerly with the Washington Examiner, theorized that Wallace is “hoping she will hire him at @MSNBC.”
Others meanwhile wondered as to what universe Wallace is inhabiting that he believes Psaki has brought civility back to the White House’s press briefings.
Like calling reporters “Stupid Son of a Bitch?”
— Dagny Reagan (@Dagny1066) April 21, 2022
Wipe that drool off your lips and Chin
— marie derome (@mtderome) April 21, 2022
Did Chris mention which one of President Trump’s press secretaries was ever uncivil?
— Mark P. Levy (@MarkPLevy) April 21, 2022
The incivility in the Trump press room was due to the “reporters”, not the press Secretary.
— Toby T (@Tobizoid) April 21, 2022
Chris Wallace is a hack. All psaki did was bring lies and shame to her job.
— Conservative RV’er (@Charles20507532) April 21, 2022
One failed loser praising another. This is the state of our absurdly ridiculous media.
— Ocala Mike (@OcalaMike20) April 21, 2022
Huh? She is rude and snarky to reporters who are actually friendly to her and don’t ask hard questions. Doocy is the only one there that asks the hard questions Americans want to hear.
— Rodimusbill (@RodimusBill) April 21, 2022
— P-E-Z (@pez1963) April 21, 2022
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