OPINION: This article contains commentary which may reflect the author's opinion
Until last week, Jen Psake was the White House Press Secretary and subject to scrutiny as she was the voice of the president to the press.
In fact, she delivered his talking points and spoke for him as Joe Biden has become known for his poor communication skills on camera and with the press.
As anyone in public life knows, being on camera means there will be fans and there will also be detractors.
Former press secretaries, including those during the recent Trump administration, dealt with the same public issues.
But Psaki apparently was surprised to find that there were drawbacks to being a public figure.
In a recent forum at he Institute of Politics at the University of Chicago, Psaki revealed her thoughts on her former job.
Mediaite reported that the forum, called “Notes from the Frying Pan to the Fire,” saw Psaki giving the down side to being Biden’s voice.
“Something that came up on the stage here recently was this notion that we don’t really have kind of these high profile political operatives anymore, like Karl Rove, like David Axelrod. Kellyanne.
Kellyanne Conway, I would say in that category, kind of in the spotlight.
And so in this dynamic that you’re describing, you’ve sort of kind of in some ways became the personification of the administration.
And that’s, whether it was kind of like the ‘Yass Kween!’ aspect of it or, you know, all the other things we just described. Did that feel weird for you?
Do you feel like that’s part of this culture shift? What was that like for you personally?” moderator Jennifer Steinhauer said.
“For me personally. So because of COVID, and you know, I did not go out anywhere for I mean, a long time, as I’m sure it’s true for many people in here.
And when I started this job, I don’t think I left the White House for the first two or three months. Actually, I remember the first time I tried to leave the White House, and I had worked there before, but I couldn’t figure out how to wave the badge to get out of the gate.
And it was like shaking the gate and trying to get out to get a cup of coffee.
But my point is, I, the briefing room is very small. And so when you are just doing that every day and you’re doing your job and you’re trying to do your job, you’re pretty closed off from kind of the external stuff, aside from Twitter.
And I won’t focus on that,” Psaki said.
Psaki explained that she did not realize that as White House Press Secretary she would not be universally liked,
“And the first time that I was out in public and anyone recognized me for good, I had somebody who followed me around and was yelling shame at me at a baseball game.
And my husband was very distressed by this. I was not.
And then I also had people who wanted to take pictures.
And it was very jarring because I had just been doing my job and had not been tracking that anyone would ever possibly know who I was. So that was jarring,” she said.
Psaki indicated that she was disturbed by the fact that some people did not like her, and thought she was more threatened than previous press secretaries.
“What has been the most difficult is that there are a lot of people out there who are vitriolic and I have had a lot of threats against me, against my family, names of my kids texted to me with my home address, things that are very scary.
And that is when it starts to get. I don’t know. Was that the case ten, 15, 20 years ago? I’m not sure. But it is an aspect of today that is a little scarier.
“And truth is, I can go out there. I mean, last week I was in this job five or six days ago.
And, you know, I had a lot to say about Senator Rick Scott’s tax plan. Right? I don’t wish him ill. Right? I don’t wish violence against him or his family. I wish I wish him fine. I wish him well. You know, I just disagree with his tax plan.
And we’re now at a point in time where it is frightening the level of vitriol out there and as a weirdly, a semipublic-ish person. That is something that has been a part I didn’t anticipate,” she said.
Asked if she ever had to report threats to the police, Psaki replied,
“I’ve had to report a number of things to them over the course of time. Yes. Because you don’t know what’s what’s accurate and what’s not accurate.
And you, I have like no risk aversion.
But my husband, who was fortunately has a higher level than I do. It becomes alarming when your kids’ names are out there, and your home address is out there, and you’re getting threatening mail to your house. You do have to be proactive about it,” she said.