Jen Psaki
Psaki in 2022
34th White House Press Secretary
In office
January 20, 2021 – May 13, 2022
PresidentJoe Biden
DeputyKarine Jean-Pierre
(Principal Deputy)
Preceded byKayleigh McEnany
Succeeded byKarine Jean-Pierre
White House Communications Director
In office
April 1, 2015 – January 20, 2017
PresidentBarack Obama
Preceded byJennifer Palmieri
Succeeded bySean Spicer
Spokesperson for the United States Department of State
In office
April 5, 2013 – March 31, 2015
PresidentBarack Obama
DeputyMarie Harf
Preceded byVictoria Nuland
Succeeded byJohn Kirby
White House Deputy Communications Director
In office
December 19, 2009 – September 22, 2011
PresidentBarack Obama
Preceded byDaniel Pfeiffer
Succeeded byJennifer Palmieri
White House Deputy Press Secretary
In office
January 20, 2009 – December 19, 2009
PresidentBarack Obama
LeaderRobert Gibbs
Preceded byTony Fratto
Succeeded byBill Burton
Personal details
Born
Jennifer Rene Psaki

(1978-12-01) December 1, 1978 (age 45)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse
Gregory Mecher
(m. 2010)
Children2
EducationCollege of William and Mary (BA)

Jennifer Rene Psaki[1] (/ˈsɑːki/; born December 1, 1978)[2][3] is an American television political analyst and former government official. A political advisor who served under both the Obama and Biden administrations, she served the Biden administration as the 34th White House press secretary[4] until May 2022. A member of the Democratic Party, she previously served in the Obama administration as the White House deputy press secretary (2009); the White House deputy communications director (2009–2011); the spokesperson for the United States Department of State (2013–2015); and the White House communications director (2015–2017).[5] Psaki was a political contributor for CNN from 2017 to 2020.[6] As of March 2023, she hosts the talk-show Inside with Jen Psaki on MSNBC.

Early life and education

Psaki, the eldest of three daughters,[7] was born in New York City, New York, in 1978 to psychotherapist[1] Eileen (née Dolan) Medvey[8] and Dimitrios "James" R. Psaki, a retired real estate developer whose grandfather had emigrated from Greece in 1904 and whose grandmother was of Irish descent. Her parents married in 1976.[9][10]

Psaki grew up in Stamford, Connecticut and graduated from Greenwich High School in 1996. In 2000, she graduated from the College of William & Mary with a degree in English and sociology.[11] She is a member of the Chi Omega sorority.[12] At William & Mary, Psaki was a competitive backstroke swimmer for the William & Mary Tribe athletic team for two years.[12][13][14]

Career

Early career

Psaki began her career in 2001 with the re-election campaigns of Iowa Democrats Tom Harkin for the U.S. Senate and Tom Vilsack for governor. Psaki then became deputy press secretary for John Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign. From 2005 to 2006, Psaki served as communications director to U.S. representative Joseph Crowley and regional press secretary for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.[15]

Obama administration

Throughout the 2008 presidential campaign of U.S. senator Barack Obama, Psaki served as traveling press secretary.[15] After Obama won the election, Psaki followed Obama to the White House as deputy press secretary and was promoted to deputy communications director on December 19, 2009.[16][17] On September 22, 2011, Psaki left this position to become senior vice president and managing director at the Washington, D.C., office of public relations firm Global Strategy Group.[18][19]

In 2012, Psaki returned to political communications as press secretary for President Obama's 2012 reelection campaign.[20] On February 11, 2013, Psaki became the spokesperson for the United States Department of State.[20] Her hiring at the Department of State fueled speculation that she would replace White House press secretary Jay Carney when he left the White House,[21] but, on May 30, 2014, it was announced that Josh Earnest would replace Carney. In 2015, she returned to the White House as communications director and stayed through the end of the Obama administration.

On February 7, 2017, Psaki began working as a political commentator on CNN.[3]

White House press secretary

Psaki on Air Force One

In November 2020, Psaki left CNN and joined the Biden–Harris transition team.[22] Later that month, Psaki was named as the White House press secretary for the Biden administration.[23][24][25]

She held her first press briefing on the evening of January 20, 2021, after the inauguration.[26] On May 6, in an interview with former senior advisor to the president David Axelrod, Psaki suggested she would depart from the position of press secretary "in about a year from now".[27][28] In October, Psaki was accused by a watchdog group of violating the Hatch Act for her comments on the 2021 Virginia gubernatorial election.[29][30][31][32] On November 2, Psaki announced that she had tested positive for COVID-19.[33] After quarantining and fully recovering, she returned to work on November 12 and credited her vaccination status for her recovery without complications.[34]

On March 22, 2022, Psaki tested positive for COVID-19 for the second time in six months and did not accompany President Biden on his trip to Europe.[35] On April 1, Axios reported that Psaki would likely leave the White House "around May" for a job with MSNBC.[36] On May 5, the White House announced she would be leaving the role on May 13, and named her principal deputy, Karine Jean-Pierre, as her replacement.[37]

Later career

On May 24, 2022, MSNBC announced its hiring of Psaki as a contributor; the network stated that she would make appearances during its coverage of the 2022 midterms and 2024 presidential elections, and that a show hosted by Psaki was in development for Peacock.[38][39] Psaki made her first television appearance after leaving her position as White House press secretary on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon discussing the Robb Elementary School shooting.[40]

In February 2023, MSNBC announced that Psaki would host a new Sunday morning program, Inside with Jen Psaki, beginning on March 19, 2023. The program carries a focus on public policy issues.[41] On September 25, 2023, the program took over MSNBC's Monday 8 p.m. Eastern prime time slot, which was previously a secondary timeslot for All In with Chris Hayes. Psaki had occasionally filled in as a substitute host for All In, prompting speculation.[42]

Journalists at NBC News, the sister network of MSNBC, expressed anger and trepidation about Psaki's move to MSNBC, fearing that it would damage NBC's brand and "reinforce the impression, already well-established in opinion polls, that the news business in the US works hand-in-glove with political factions."[43] Psaki negotiated the deal, along with a competing offer from CNN, while still serving in the office of press secretary. This led to concerns, including from NBC's own White House correspondent, Kristen Welker, that she could have shown favoritism toward her potential employers in order to secure her new role. Although other staffers have moved from the White House to cable news, the decision to make Psaki an anchor and not a political analyst was unusual.[44][45]

Personal life

On May 8, 2010,[46] Psaki married Greg Mecher, then chief of staff to Congressman Steve Driehaus. Later, Mecher served as chief of staff to Congressman Joe Kennedy.[47] The couple met at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in 2006. They have two children.[48]

References

  1. ^ a b "Jennifer Psaki, Gregory Mecher". The New York Times. May 7, 2010. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on December 22, 2020. Retrieved December 5, 2020.
  2. ^ House, The White (December 1, 2021). "Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jen Psaki, December 1, 2021". The White House. Retrieved January 31, 2023. Thank you, Jen. And, first of all, happy birthday.
  3. ^ a b Concha, Joe (February 8, 2017). "Jen Psaki joins CNN". The Hill. Archived from the original on December 22, 2020. Retrieved February 8, 2017. Psaki, 38 ...
  4. ^ "President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris Announce Members of White House Senior Communications Staff". President-Elect Joe Biden. November 29, 2020. Archived from the original on November 30, 2020. Retrieved November 30, 2020.
  5. ^ "Jen Psaki returns to White House". Politico. Archived from the original on May 8, 2015. Retrieved February 19, 2015.
  6. ^ "Jen Psaki". Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Archived from the original on December 22, 2020. Retrieved December 11, 2018.
  7. ^ Newspapers, Charles J. Lewis, Hearst (September 22, 2011). "Greenwich High alum resigns White House job". StamfordAdvocate.((cite web)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  8. ^ "Miss Eileen Dolan And James Psaki To Marry Today". The Bridgeport Post. July 18, 1976. p. 30 – via newspapers.com. the wedding of Miss Eileen D. Dolan, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. S.J. Dailey of New York city, to James R. Psaki, son of Dr. and Mrs. Raoul C. Psaki
  9. ^ ""Υπερήφανος για την Τζένιφερ", δηλώνει για την κόρη του ο Δημήτριος Ψάκη" [«Proud for Jennifer,» states Dimitrios Psaki for his daughter]. Ethnikos Kirikas (in Greek). December 4, 2020. Archived from the original on April 20, 2021. Retrieved April 10, 2021.
  10. ^ "Biden Picks Greek-American Jen Psaki to Lead Confirmation Team". The National Herald. November 19, 2020. Archived from the original on January 28, 2021. Retrieved January 21, 2021. Psaki is of Irish and Greek descent with her Greek roots in Messinia through her father James R. Psaki
  11. ^ "Psaki '00 named White House communications director". College of William & Mary. Archived from the original on December 22, 2020. Retrieved November 30, 2020.
  12. ^ a b Sawicki, Stephen (February 2011). "Meeting the Press". Greenwich Magazine. Archived from the original on August 30, 2013. Retrieved August 6, 2013.
  13. ^ "Women's swimming and diving roster". College of William & Mary. Archived from the original on June 16, 1997.
  14. ^ "A Greek name, Irish lineages". Irish Echo Newspaper.
  15. ^ a b "Jennifer Psaki". OpenSecrets. Archived from the original on December 22, 2020.
  16. ^ "Jen Psaki". The Washington Post. July 23, 2012. Archived from the original on December 22, 2020. Retrieved July 6, 2013.
  17. ^ Allen, Mike (December 19, 2009). "Jen Psaki named Deputy Communications Director -- Summit accepts Obama deal -- Health reform could effectively pass at 1 a.m. Monday -- Shannon Flaherty b'day". Politico. Archived from the original on December 22, 2020. Retrieved July 6, 2013.
  18. ^ Calmes, Jackie (September 20, 2011). "White House Deputy Communications Director Steps Down". The New York Times. Archived from the original on December 22, 2020. Retrieved July 6, 2013.
  19. ^ Lewis, Charles J. (September 22, 2011). "Greenwich High alum resigns White House job". Greenwich Time. Retrieved July 6, 2013.
  20. ^ a b "Jen Psaki, Department Spokesperson". US Department of State. Archived from the original on July 12, 2013. Retrieved July 5, 2013.
  21. ^ Rogin, Josh (February 15, 2013). "What Jen Psaki faces as the new State Department spokeswoman". Foreign Policy. FP Group, a division of the Washington Post Company. Archived from the original on June 14, 2013.
  22. ^ Sullivan, Kate (November 30, 2020). "Biden announces all-female senior White House communications team". CNN. Archived from the original on December 22, 2020. Retrieved October 30, 2020.
  23. ^ "Jen Psaki, White House Press Secretary". President-Elect Joe Biden. Retrieved January 5, 2021.
  24. ^ Linskey, Annie; Stein, Jeff (November 29, 2020). "Biden hires all-female senior communications team, names Neera Tanden director of OMB". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on November 30, 2020. Retrieved November 29, 2020.
  25. ^ "White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki Holds First Briefing". C-SPAN. January 20, 2021. Retrieved January 21, 2021.
  26. ^ "New White House press secretary holds 1st briefing this evening". CBC. January 20, 2021. Retrieved January 21, 2021.
  27. ^ Moore, Thomas (May 7, 2021). "Psaki Signals She'll Step Down Next Year". The Hill. Retrieved May 7, 2021.
  28. ^ Stelter, Brian (May 6, 2021). "Jen Psaki Says She Talked with the Biden Transition Team about a Roughly One-Year Term". CNN. Retrieved May 7, 2021.
  29. ^ Judd, Donald (October 16, 2021). Watchdog files Hatch Act complaint against Jen Psaki over comments on Virginia governor's race. CNN Politics. Retrieved October 24, 2021.
  30. ^ Breuninger, Kevin (October 15, 2021.). Biden press secretary Jen Psaki may have violated ethics law with comment on Virginia race, watchdog says. CNBC. Retrieved October 24, 2021.
  31. ^ Cox, Chelsey (October 15, 2021). White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki accused of violating Hatch Act. USA Today. Retrieved October 24, 2021.
  32. ^ Samuels, Brett (October 15, 2021). Ethics watchdog accuses Psaki of violating Hatch Act. The Hill. Retrieved October 24, 2021.
  33. ^ "Jen Psaki: White House Press Secretary Says She Has COVID". Al Jazeera. November 2, 2021. Retrieved November 13, 2021.
  34. ^ Rafford, Claire (November 13, 2021). "Press Secretary Jen Psaki returns to work after Covid-19". Politico. Retrieved November 13, 2021.
  35. ^ Superville, Darlene (March 22, 2022). "Biden press secretary has COVID-19, won't travel to Europe". Associated Press. Retrieved March 22, 2022.
  36. ^ Fischer, Sara (April 1, 2022). "Jen Psaki planning to leave White House this spring for MSNBC gig". Axios. Retrieved April 1, 2022.
  37. ^ "President Biden Announces Karine Jean-Pierre as White House Press Secretary". The White House. May 5, 2022. Retrieved May 5, 2022.
  38. ^ Michael M. Grynbaum (May 24, 2022). "Jen Psaki Joins MSNBC as a Host and Commentator". The New York Times.
  39. ^ Johnson, Ted (May 24, 2022). "MSNBC Makes It Official: Jen Psaki To Join Network In Fall, Will Host New Show For Streaming Channel". Deadline. Retrieved March 22, 2023.
  40. ^ Graziosi, Graig (May 26, 2022). "Jen Psaki says she fears sending daughter to kindergarten in US". The Independent. Retrieved June 28, 2022.
  41. ^ Weprin, Alex (February 21, 2023). "MSNBC Sets Jen Psaki Weekly Series, Says Streaming and Social Shows in the Works". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved February 22, 2023.
  42. ^ Johnson, Ted (September 7, 2023). "'Inside With Jen Psaki' Expanding To Mondays On MSNBC". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved September 7, 2023.
  43. ^ Helmore, Edward (April 10, 2022). "Money and morals. Psaki is just the latest to swap White House for cable TV". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved October 2, 2023.
  44. ^ Darcy, Oliver (April 7, 2022). "NBC News journalists vexed by MSNBC's move to hire White House press secretary Jen Psaki | CNN Business". CNN. Retrieved October 2, 2023.
  45. ^ Stanage, Niall (April 8, 2022). "The Memo: Psaki's rumored MSNBC move prompts controversy". The Hill. Retrieved October 2, 2023.
  46. ^ McCarthy, Ellen (May 16, 2010). "OnLove Wedding: Jen Psaki and Gregory Mecher get married in Maryland". The Washington Post. Retrieved September 21, 2021.
  47. ^ Laviola, Erin (January 22, 2021). "Gregory Mecher, Jen Psaki's Husband: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know". Heavy. Retrieved January 31, 2021.
  48. ^ Emmrich, Stuart (January 29, 2021). "8 Things to Know About Jen Psaki, Biden's Press Secretary". Vogue. Retrieved February 3, 2021.
Political offices Preceded byVictoria Nuland Spokesperson for the United States Department of State 2013–2015 Succeeded byJohn Kirby Preceded byJennifer Palmieri White House Director of Communications 2015–2017 Succeeded bySean Spicer Preceded byKayleigh McEnany White House Press Secretary 2021–2022 Succeeded byKarine Jean-Pierre