Outgoing White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was grilled by Fox News “MediaBuzz” host Howard Kurtz over reports that she is leaving the Biden Administration for a job at MSNBC, forcing her to defend her integrity and “high ethical standard.”
Psaki, who will step down at the end of this coming week, defended herself from claims of conflicts of interest by continuing to work as President Biden’s top press liaison even after reportedly taking a position at one of the media outlets covering her press conferences. While she did not directly mention MSNBC, she said that she recused herself from any meetings involving media outlets that may employ her after leaving the White House.
“I know you can’t discuss your next job for ethical reasons,” Kurtz said. “But it’s been widely reported. You got a lot of criticism over possible conflicts during this period. Did that bother you?”
“Of course, because I’m a human being,” Psaki responded. “But what I know is what I try to do every day, and I hold myself to a very high ethical standard. I took steps, and have taken steps, as I’ve had any discussions with any future employer that go over and above any requirements by government — recusing myself from many discussions as well.”
Psaki told Kurtz that her tenure as WH press secretary was guided by the advice she received from President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden to base her actions “from the prism of bringing credibility back to the job” and to make sure she is always “showing respect even for people who disagree with us, with him, with the policies of the administration.”
“I’m an Irish lass in my heart. Sometimes I get a little fiery in there,” she admitted. “But on most days, my hope and my objective is to not make it a gotcha moment, and to make it a place where we are providing information.”
Psaki will be succeeded as press secretary by one of her closest colleagues, Karine Jean-Pierre, who will be the first openly gay and Black person to hold the position. Jean-Pierre served as a senior adviser on the 2020 Biden presidential campaign and was the top spokesperson for the progressive organization MoveOn.org.
Watch Psaki’s full “MediaBuzz” interview at the top.