Four years after America learned just how petty and mendacious the White House communications department would become under Donald Trump, the initial press briefing from the incoming Biden Administration received rave reviews from the news media by merely returning to the standards of previous administrations.
When newly-appointed White House press secretary Jen Psaki appeared at the podium in the Briefing Room, one of the first questions asked was:
“Do you see yourself–your primary role as promoting the interest of the president, or are you there to provide us the unvarnished truth so that we can share that with the American people?”
The idea that such a question would even need to be asked would have been ludicrous in an earlier era but after four Press Secretaries in four years of the Trump administration — each one equally dedicated to advancing the agenda of their boss rather than providing “unvarnished truth” — it’s perfectly understandable as to why it was proffered.
After all, the last Press Secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, lasted only a few minutes after promising never to violate the trust of the journalists in front of her in her initial briefing before she began peddling Trump’s “alternative facts” and earned the nickname “Kay-lie.”
Psaki similarly vowed to always be truthful with the White House correspondents but, unlike McEnany and her Trump administration predecessors, she actually delivered on her promise and garnered praise from the journalists she was working with.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki begins the first briefing of the Biden administration by saying she aims to rebuild trust and said it is "OK" that there will be times when she and reporters see things differently.
Quite a change from the last administration. https://t.co/7IQ56kfrwm
— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche) January 21, 2021
Biden White House press secretary Jen Psaki begins her briefing by talking about the importance of “truth and transparency” and “rebuilding trust with the American people.”
— Geoff Bennett (@GeoffRBennett) January 21, 2021
Jen Psaki’s Debut: No Attacks, No Lectures, No Crowd Size Fixationhttps://t.co/B3M3OKSqCd
— Annie Karni (@anniekarni) January 21, 2021
Jen Psaki says the Biden admin will hold regular press briefings and will also hold more COVID briefings with health officials.
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) January 21, 2021
Jen Psaki just held a press briefing and didn’t lie once. Psaki was clear and respectful to reporters. Mind blown.
— Scott Dworkin (@funder) January 21, 2021
Jen Psaki is a break of fresh air. So is the truth. So is the decency.
— Adam Parkhomenko (@AdamParkhomenko) January 21, 2021
This press briefing is weird.
Psaki didn’t even mention the size of Biden’s inauguration.
— Angry Staffer (@Angry_Staffer) January 21, 2021
For all the praise of the new Press Secretary’s performance, naturally at least one media outlet — one not known for its faithful dedication to broadcasting the truth — instead complained about the unequal treatment President Biden’s press liaison was receiving from a press corps salivating at the prospect for a return to normalcy in their jobs compared to Trump’s appointees.
Even worse, one of those appointees decided to tweet out the accusations of media bias originating from Fox News in his feed, since he was so prominently featured in the comparison of each administration’s first press conferences.
Tale of two briefings: Jen Psaki treated much differently by press than Sean Spicerhttps://t.co/eZdfbExTRU
— Sean Spicer (@seanspicer) January 21, 2021
Seemingly, Spicer and Fox would have preferred that Psaki be peppered with questions regarding Trump’s ludicrous accusations towards Hunter Biden, the new president’s son, in retaliation for the questions about Russian interference in the election that surfaced during Spicer’s debut as press secretary.
Oddly, no one would have likely remembered a single thing about that first press briefing of the Trump era had Spicer not launched into his over-the-top Orwellian protestations that — contrary to the evidence of our eyes and the aerial photographs — the Trump inaugural had attracted the largest crowd in U.S. history.
Both Spicer and Fox News fail to realize that the differing receptions afforded the Biden press secretary compared to her predecessors may actually have more to do with the combative attitude of the Trump appointees and the fact that the press doesn’t appreciate being lied to constantly than any partisan bias towards Democrats.
Of course, one day does not define an administration, so Psaki will have plenty of time to prove whether her promise to be truthful will be fulfilled.
Let’s wait four years and compare the lie counts from fact-checkers about the information provided by the Biden White House to the 30,573 false or misleading claims tallied by The Washington Post during the four years of the Trump administration.
If the Biden total comes back bigger than that, we’ll be willing to listen to Sean Spicer’s opinion again…but not a moment sooner.
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Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.