Washingtonian Mag Calls Psaki Fandom, PsakiBomb 'Dangerous'

Alex Wong/Getty Images Buried in a lengthy and mostly-positive profile of White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki is an assertion that ...


Alex Wong/Getty Images

Buried in a lengthy and mostly-positive profile of White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki is an assertion that Psaki fandom — wherein Psaki Pstans cheer on so-called #PsakiBombs” — is “dangerous.”

The Washingtonian article, written by Jessica Goldstein, features a slew of on-the-record quotes from current White House reporters largely praising Psaki, and a few more critical comments about the press shop from anonymous reporters.

Psaki was a member of the Obama press shop when I covered that administration, and much of what the article says tracks with my own experiences at that time, although I’d put it bit more diplomatically. There was a strong undercurrent of youthful arrogance that shot through that press shop, but Psaki was at the top of a list of notable exceptions.

But the article does contain a pretty sharp critique of folks who cheer extra hard for Psaki’s handling of certain questions:

Even her ability to shut down questions she doesn’t want to answer has been affectionately hashtagged, as a #Psakibomb—a fandom that feels misplaced and even dangerous, considering it isn’t in the public’s best interest for the White House’s most prominent spokesperson to be good at deflecting queries. It’s like a hangover from the Trump era we’re struggling to shake, a legacy that defines both Psaki’s job and the feelings she engenders in a general public that ought to know better.

This type of slam against the #PsakiBomb phenomenon isn’t necessarily new, and might even be informed by the low hum of White House reporters complaining about same. For example, then-White House correspondent Hunter Walker saw the hashtag as akin to cheerleading authoritarianism, and other journalists were displeased as well.

Calling the Psaki Pfandom “dangerous” seems like overkill, but even the milder critiques of the pfenomenon seem to be based on pfaulty premises. (Okay, I’ll stop now).

As a former White House reporter, I’m sympathetic to the notion that an adversarial press is absolutely essential to a functioning democracy, but what these critics seem to be doing is making a misplaced and dangerous assumption that #PsakiBomb is a rejection of that.

It has been my observation that the most popular deployments of Psaki ordnance are those in which the press secretary tilts her head and exposes the bad faith of a question being asked, shuts down a line of questioning that has already been answered, or gaslights Peter Doocy about not getting called on at President Joe Biden’s press conference (I’ll leave it to the individual to decide whether he earned that snub), or just delivers a really effective answer to a question.

But a perusal of the #PsakiBomb videos doesn’t appear to support the notion that she’s being cheered for evading questions or shooting down reporters simply for being adversarial. If being made to look stupid has a chilling effect on the asking of stupid questions, is that “dangerous?”

You decide. Here are some of the top video results for #PsakiBomb.

And at the risk of clouding the issue, the last administration was led by a person who literally incited pipe bomb attacks against the press, with a fandom that committed a deadly insurrection at the Capitol. This is a fandom devoted to wishing reporters would do a better job. Only one of these is “dangerous.”

This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.



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Newsrust - US Top News: Washingtonian Mag Calls Psaki Fandom, PsakiBomb 'Dangerous'
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