Daily US Times: At the end of Sean Spicer’s debut press briefing at the first day of the Donald Trump presidency, a journalist remarked to me: “I feel like I’m back at school.” I replied: “I feel like I’m back in Zimbabwe,” alluding to my days as an Africa correspondent reporting on the autocratic Robert Mugabe.
Four years later, Jen Psaki delivered the first briefing of Joe Biden’s administration in the same room from the same lectern. Sean Spicer redux it was not.
Just compare their remarks about the press. “Some members of the media were engaged in deliberately false reporting,” Spicer scowled in reference to the inauguration of Trump, adding darkly: “We’re going to hold the press accountable.”
Psaki, 42, by contrast, began her term with a smile: “It’s an honour to be here with all of you. When the president asked me to serve in this role, we talked about the importance of bringing truth and transparency back to the briefing room.”
“I have deep respect for the role of a free and independent press in our democracy,” she added later.
The new White House press secretary’s maiden press briefing on Wednesday was radical in its normality and startling in its civility. Professional and polished, Jen Psaki arrived wearing a mask, breaking from Trump administration’s tradition, and told a dozen physically distanced reporters: “There will be moments when we disagree, and there will certainly be days where we disagree for extensive parts of the briefing even, perhaps. But we have a common goal, which is sharing accurate information with the American people.”