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News Busters
18 Mar 2023
Tim Graham

NextImg:Jen Psaki Felt Like an 'Orderly in an Insane Asylum' in the White House Briefing Room

In advance of her debut on Sunday at noon, former Biden press secretary Jen Psaki is promising her show will bringing MSNBC viewers her insider perspective. Stephen Battaglio at the Los Angeles Times asked her how she could remain calm in the White House briefing room: “Is there anything in your habits that keeps you that way? Is it yoga? Diet? Jesus Christ?”

Psaki said her sister is a Unitarian minister, but it’s not a faith thing. Then she compared the White House briefing room to an insane asylum, which is pretty weird since almost every reporter there is a Democrat. 

There are a lot of universities and colleges in D.C. So if I would run into college students in the street, they'd ask me, "What are you thinking in your mind when so-and-so is asking you a crazy question?" And I would say, "Sometimes I'm thinking that I am an orderly in an insane asylum. And if I talk slowly and calmly, everybody will calm down.” 

Battaglio also asked about Peter Doocy of Fox News, but she typically said he was always professional, and so he's not insane. Nobody ever asks her to compare Doocy to Yelling Jim Acosta.

Here's how Psaki is selling the show at the start:

BATTAGLIO: MSNBC caters to a politically progressive audience. But a lot of people who still sit down in front of the television set are looking for more of a straight-ahead discussion about the news. Are you going to think of it as an opinion show or a more down-the-middle news show?

PSAKI: I think of it more as I'm going to choose Option C, which is an informed show. I've worked for Democratic politicians, including two Democratic presidents, for 20 years. I'm not going to pretend that I have not worked on those campaigns and not sat in the situation room or on the campaign bus. That wouldn't be very useful to viewers. I'm also not going to pretend that I think that I haven't long supported a woman's right to choose, or the ability of people to marry who they want, or be who they want, because that wouldn't be authentic.

But I also think we have at times gone away from what I would consider healthy discussions and debates about a range of issues. And I will certainly invite a range of Republicans on the show to have discussions with them. If they say something that's false or inaccurate, I will call that out. But also I think my experience in government is about having those discussions as a healthy part of the debate.

Brian Sternberg at Variety makes it sound like they might like to promote a Psaki show to weekdays, not just Sundays. "There is hope within the halls of NBCUniversal’s news division, says one person familiar with the matter, that Psaki can develop a strong relationship with viewers over time, and perhaps take on even greater duties."

Maybe she could take the Maddow slot Tuesdays to Fridays? Or delight liberal Twitter and replace Chuck Todd! 

I think we can guess from the first clips that she will be enough of a partisan Democrat for the MSNBC base: 

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