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Press Chief for Biden Has a 'North Star' on the Job

'Vogue' profiles Jen Psaki, who says projecting a calm tone is a priority
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 15, 2021 4:00 PM CDT
Press Chief for Biden Has a 'North Star' on the Job
White House press secretary Jen Psaki.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

(Newser) Vogue is out with a profile of Biden press chief Jen Psaki, one that has a decidedly flattering tone. "When Psaki first appeared in the press briefing room, in January 2021, there was a collective swoon from roughly half the country," writes Lizzie Widdicombe. The piece praises the 42-year-old Psaki's "mixture of warmth, humor, intelligence, and edge," and suggests that most of the reporters in the White House press corps prefer the new vibe in the briefings. “She’s lowered the temperature and gotten us back to a more stable, if adversarial, relationship," says Peter Baker of the New York Times. He did, however, add that her briefings "are not exceptionally informative." Psaki tells Widdicombe that her "North Star" in the job is tone—trying to project calm to a nation where political nerves are frazzled. But she recoils at being described as "nice," because she finds that "nails on a chalkboard" word demeaning and sexist.

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"It’s also this desire to put people in a box," says Psaki. "Yes, sometimes I’m friendly and joyful, and sometimes I’m tough, and sometimes I’m straightforward.” The profile covers the professional (Psaki is a "completist" who wants to know everything about a subject, rather than being kept in the dark on certain details out of fear she will inadvertently let them slip) to the personal (two young kids, pizza night once a week with her family and the family of one of her three sisters) to the fashion-centric (she does her own makeup, "black eyeliner, simple lipstick," after getting tips from a CNN makeup artist). The story also notes that fans have popularized the hashtag "#Psakibomb" when she dispenses with a question she finds foolish. Many on the right are dissing the piece as too flattering and wondering where such profiles of women were during the Trump administration, notes Fox News, which rounds up the criticism. (Read the full Vogue profile.)

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