Watch: 'He works for the American people': First White House briefing focuses on transparency
After four years of turbulence and spin from the White House, press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that the newly inaugurated administration has a “common goal” – “sharing accurate information with the American people.”
“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,” she said on Wednesday night, following the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.
“There are a number of ways to combat misinformation,” she said. “One of them is accurate information and truth and data and sharing information even when it is hard to hear."
Her statements follow the 10-month term of Donald Trump’s press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, the fourth person in the Trump administration to hold the position, and a final year in office marred by obfuscation and disinformation as the US saw thousands of daily deaths from Covid-19 while the president spread baseless election fraud conspiracies in the months leading up to Election Day.
Ms McEnany pledged to “never lie to you – you have my word on that” at her first briefing, though she would go on to amplify the president’s false claims throughout the coronavirus pandemic and the 2020 presidential election.
Ms Psaki said the White House will return to daily press briefings on Monday through Friday.
“Rebuilding trust with the American people will be central to our focus in the press office and in the White House every single day,” she said.
She also said the White House will resume briefings with health officials and “do them regularly in a dependable way.”
Ms Psaki served as a State Department spokesperson during Barack Obama’s administration, a well as the former president’s communications director at the end of his term in office. She did not work on the Biden campaign; she joined the Biden-Harris Transition team in November. She also worked as a political commentator on CNN.
“Let’s do this again tomorrow,” Ms Psaki said.
The 30-minute briefing followed the president’s virtual swearing-in ceremony for hundreds of his appointed staff.
“You work for the people. I work for the people," he told them. “You’re going to work like the devil. We all do.”
He added that if he finds that anyone on his staff does not treat others with dignity and respect, “I will fire you on the spot.”
Hours after his inauguration on Wednesday, the president signed more than a dozen executive actions, effectively undoing critical components of his predecessor’s anti-immigration agenda and policies on the coronavirus emergency and the climate crisis.
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