Psaki called out over White House use of ‘anonymous briefings’

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White House press secretary Jen Psaki faced some pushback from reporters Friday after she claimed she tried to avoid responding to “anonymous reports or anonymous sources.”

In a Twitter post, Bloomberg News senior White House reporter Jennifer Jacobs accused Psaki of hypocrisy, claiming Psaki’s own team “regularly organizes anonymous briefings on topics in the news.”

Jacobs’ tweet was a reaction to a White House exchange between Psaki and Fox News’ Peter Doocy, in which Doocy questioned Psaki on whether the White House was concerned about recent reports of an “abusive environment” inside the office of Vice President Kamala Harris.

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“I try not to speak to or engage on anonymous reports or anonymous sources,” Psaki told Doocy.

After Jacobs posted her reaction to Psaki on Twitter, the press secretary tried to draw a distinction between allegedly politically motivated stories planted by anonymous sources and the types of background briefings that she claimed her office provides.

“I think everyone knows the difference between attacking someone as an anonymous source and providing details on a policy announcement to reporters in an effort to provide information and answer media questions,” Psaki responded to Jacobs.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki speaks during a briefing at the White House, May 13, 2021. (Associated Press)

White House press secretary Jen Psaki speaks during a briefing at the White House, May 13, 2021. (Associated Press)

New York Times reporter Peter Baker acknowledged the distinction Psaki was trying to make, but questioned why any briefings from the White House would be done anonymously.

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“Point taken. And this is true with every White House,” Baker wrote. “But with all respect, why should ‘providing details on a policy announcement’ be done anonymously in a transparent and open democratic society?”

Psaki did not appear to respond to Baker’s inquiry.

Bloomberg reporter Steven Dennis also argued in favor of more transparency from the White House.

“The default should be briefings are on the record,” Dennis wrote. “I’ve never understood why WH’s insist on a process where transcripts are sent out quoting nameless SAOs [senior administration officials].”

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