Jen Psaki says she was threatened, harassed during tenure as press secretary: ‘Very scary’

Former White House press secretary Jen Psaki opened up last week about the treatment she claims to have been subject to during her tenure as President Joe Biden’s chief spokesperson.

Psaki’s main job before officially stepping down earlier this month was to put a positive spin on her boss’ job performance, even amid scandals, controversies, and bad economic news related to high gas prices and inflation.

Along with the job came the attention of people who wanted to threaten and harass her, the former press secretary said Wednesday at a University of Chicago Institute of Politics forum called “Notes from the Frying Pan to the Fire,” according to Mediaite.

“You’ve sort of kind of in some ways became the personification of the administration. And that’s, whether it was kind of like the ‘Yass Kween!’ aspect of it or, you know, all the other things we just described. Did that feel weird for you?” moderator Jennifer Steinhauer asked Psaki.

“Do you feel like that’s part of this culture shift? What was that like for you personally?” Steinhauer added.

Early on in her tenure, Psaki said, she was effectively “closed off” from “the external stuff” due to the pandemic.

“So because of COVID, and you know, I did not go out anywhere for I mean, a long time, as I’m sure it’s true for many people in here. And when I started this job, I don’t think I left the White House for the first two or three months,” she said.

“The briefing room is very small. And so when you are just doing that every day and you’re doing your job and you’re trying to do your job, you’re pretty closed off from kind of the external stuff, aside from Twitter. And I won’t focus on that,” she added.

When she eventually started going out in public, Psaki said she was struck by how many people interacted with her.

“The first time that I was out in public and anyone recognized me for good, I had somebody who followed me around and was yelling shame at me at a baseball game. And my husband was very distressed by this. I was not,” she recalled.

“And then I also had people who wanted to take pictures. And it was very jarring because I had just been doing my job and had not been tracking that anyone would ever possibly know who I was. So that was jarring.”

Psaki claimed many people directed vitriol toward her and made threats against her and her family.

“What has been the most difficult is that there are a lot of people out there who are vitriolic and I have had a lot of threats against me, against my family, names of my kids texted to me with my home address, things that are very scary,” Psaki said.

“And that is when it starts to get — I don’t know. Was that the case ten, 15, 20 years ago? I’m not sure. But it is an aspect of today that is a little scarier,” she continued. “We’re now at a point in time where it is frightening the level of vitriol out there and as a weirdly, a semi-public-ish person. That is something that has been a part I didn’t anticipate.”

The former Biden administration official said she reported some threats to the Secret Service.

“I’ve had to report a number of things to them over the course of time,” she said. “Because you don’t know what’s what’s accurate and what’s not accurate. And you — I have like no risk aversion.

“But my husband, who was fortunately has a higher level than I do. It becomes alarming when your kids’ names are out there, and your home address is out there, and you’re getting threatening mail to your house. You do have to be proactive about it.”