Jen Psaki Reveals the Journalists That Made Her Go ‘Oh S–t’ Every Time They Were in the White House Press Room

“The truth is, the Fox questions were not the hardest ones,” the former press secretary tells “Smartless” podcasters Jason Bateman, Sean Hayes and Will Arnett

Jen Psaki gives press briefing at White House
Jen Psaki speaks during her final daily press briefing at the White House on May 13, 2022 (Credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Jen Psaki revealed Monday the journalists that would make her go, “Oh s–t,” every time they were in the White House press room. We’ll give you a hint: It wasn’t the folks at Fox News.

“Fox News, I called on them every day — they didn’t exactly like the Biden administration as a network,” Biden’s former press secretary said on Jason Bateman, Sean Hayes and Will Arnett’s podcast “Smartless” on Monday. “They were really predictable.”

“The truth is,” Psaki later added, “the Fox questions were not the hardest ones. They’re not the hardest ones in there. The hardest ones were the people who were the experienced, in-depth print reporters who are going to actually ask you the very hard question that’s hard to answer because they’ve been working on an issue.”

Those reporters, Hayes chimed in, would probably ask Psaki the sorts of questions “that you may not expect.”

“That you may not expect,” Psaki echoed. “You may see them in the room and you say, ‘Oh s–t.’ I need to, like, warm up before I get to that person.”

About 20 minutes into their interview with Psaki, “Smartless” hosts Bateman, Hayes and Arnett began asking the former press secretary about the challenges of addressing questions from members of the press in the White House briefing room, particularly at a time when apparent factual accuracy is not a priority for some news networks.

When Psaki noted that Fox News, for instance, would often ask her about the same cycle of topics — including immigration issues at the U.S.-Mexico border — Arnett joked about the infamous caravan of migrants that became a hot-button topic during her White House tenure.

“Sorry, did we get an update on the caravan?” Arnett teased. “Did it ever make it?”

“It’s really hard to make it if something is a fabrication, that is true,” Psaki countered, which led to Bateman asking her about the tension between being a presenter of facts and being subject to others’ opinion on whether or not she’s telling the truth.

“You’re sitting there in the hub of information, what is real, what is not — from an international level, to a domestic level,” Bateman said. “And yet, they’re sitting there hearing you relay that generously, and then they say, ‘Yeah, no. I don’t believe it.’ I don’t know where you go from there.”

“Well, I think you try to make a dent into it,” Psaki said, responding to the so-called “alternative facts” crusade of the last few years. “I mean, you’re not, you try to present the counterstory — the facts to counter what the accusation is.”

“But does that feel like a drop-in-the-bucket?” Arnett pushed back. “Does it feel deflating? Do you feel defeated sometimes?”

“Not really,” Psaki said, before pinpointing what does make her feel deflated.

“I mean, the days that were defeating were the days where you’d answer the same question 50 times,” she continued. “And there were days like that, and that’s OK.”

Listen to Psaki’s full episode of “Smartless” in the Youtube embed below.