I’ll lay my cards on the table: I don’t like the idea of Jen Psaki going from the White House to broadcast news/opinion/whatever at NBC.
Let’s start with caveats:
Maybe this not-quite-confirmed rumor isn’t true.
It’s a free country and NBC can hire whomever they like.
Psaki has done a fine job as White House spox. Maybe she’ll be a good journalist.
All of that said, I don’t like the idea that political players can instantly be journalists1 any more than I like the idea of journalists who are secretly working as political players.2
But what really chafes me is Psaki remaining in her post as White House spokeswoman while being in some form of conversation with a media company about joining their team.
Psaki cannot adequately serve the administration while simultaneously planning to land at one of the outlets covering the administration.
She should have declined to have any conversations about post-White House employment until she was out of the White House. And if she wanted to explore going to work for NBC, then at the very least she should have stepped aside as the public mouthpiece for the administration.
Continuing to be the voice of the administration while in talks with a media outlet for future employment is bad for Biden, bad for NBC, and bad for Psaki. I cannot understand how any of the parties involved thought this was a good idea.
But I come not to criticize Jen Psaki but to offer the Biden administration a solution:
Make Mayor Pete the new White House spokesman.
2. He Has All the Best Words
Pete Buttigieg is the single best communicator in Democratic politics right now. He’s smart, but clear-thinking. He’s quick on his feet. He has the Bill Clinton-esque power to discuss policy like a normal human. He’s likable. He’s tough, but non-threatening. He’s the nicest McKinsey star you’ve ever met.
What do Democrats need, more than anything, right now?
Someone to go out and explain what the Biden administration has done right. Every. Single. Day.
They need someone to stand up at press conferences and explain why the jobs numbers are good. How the war in Ukraine is progressing. What the president is doing to box in Putin. How the administration is addressing gas prices.
Joe Biden—God love him—is not that guy.
Mayor Pete is.
And the reason I say Democrats need someone to take on this mission is because this is about more than the White House. The party’s midterm losses are going to be bounded by Biden’s approval numbers. A White House strategy that takes communications seriously could save a few seats on the margins.
The other day on Charlie’s show, Lis Smith argued that Democrats need to get out on Fox News to make their case. You know who has a history of doing really well on Fox? This guy:
So here’s the plan: Move
Secretary Mayor Pete from Transportation to the White House and park him in front of reporters for an hour every damn day. Have him do daily Fox hits on Special Report and Jesse Watters. Put him on Fox News Sunday and Trey Gowdy’s show every weekend.
Have him drive the message and explain to Americans—over and over and over—what the administration is doing right and what the results in the real world are.
Mayor Pete should be a combination of spokesman and 2022 obergruppenführer3—with a portfolio that basically makes him the national-level quarterback for the White House’s midterm strategy.
Two obvious objections: