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White House press secretary Psaki leaving to TV job: reports

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White House press secretary Jen Psaki did not confirm reports that she will step down soon to move to a television job./AFP
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Apr 04, 2022 - 07:54 AM

WASHINGTON — White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Friday there are no ethical problems in her remaining in her role after reports that she is in advanced negotiations to switch to a high-profile television job.

Multiple US media reports said the chief spokeswoman for President Joe Biden is set to leave soon for a lucrative position on cable news.

According to The New York Times, Psaki could host shows for MSNBC and NBCUniversal’s Peacock streaming platform, as well as appearing on the cable network’s news shows. CNN had also been chasing Psaki, the report said.

At her daily briefing, Psaki would not confirm the move.

“You can’t get rid of me yet,” she quipped to reporters. “I have nothing to confirm about my length of public service.”

“My focus every day continues to be speaking on behalf of the president answering your questions,” she added, without denying the reports.

Asked whether there was a conflict of interest in speaking from the powerful podium while possibly lining up a well paid job with one of the outlets covering her, she said “I have always gone over and above the stringent ethical and legal requirements.”

“I hope that all of you… would judge me for my record and how I treat all of you both in the briefing room and otherwise,” she said.

Get some sleep 

Psaki has previously said she did not want to remain in the grueling job, which makes her the most visible face of Biden’s team, for more than about a year. CNN reported that she would stay through the annual White House Correspondents Association dinner, scheduled for April 30.

Psaki, 43, has been in the press secretary role since the start of Biden’s administration in January 2021, when he took over from Donald Trump.

Psaki restored the tradition of daily live briefings with White House reporters, saying she wanted to rebuild trust between the administration and the media after the tumultuous Trump years, when briefings were ultimately abandoned.

Under Barack Obama, she served in the less visible White House communications director role and also as State Department spokeswoman.

No likely successor has been floated by the White House.

Psaki’s immediate deputy, Karine Jean-Pierre, is one possibility. Born to a Haitian immigrant family, Jean-Pierre became in May last year only the second Black woman to lead a White House press briefing.

Another potential candidate could be Kate Bedingfield, the White House communications director.

She filled in at the briefing room podium this week when both Psaki and Jean-Pierre were absent for Covid-19 quarantining.

As for Psaki, she said her real priority was more simple.

“At whatever time I leave the White House, I can promise you the first thing I’m going to do is sleep and spend time with my three- and six-year olds, who are my most important audiences.”

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