Journalists, viewers and critics celebrated a return to normality on Wednesday as the new White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, delivered a briefing free of lies, insults and boasts about crowd size.
Highlighting the importance of “bringing truth and transparency back to the briefing room” in President Joe Biden’s administration, Psaki noted that “there will be times where we see things differently in this room … that’s OK. That’s part of our democracy, and 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 was asked questions and answered them. She didn’t attack the press. She pledged daily briefings. All in all, it was a relatively normal process, but it stood in marked contrast to the scenes Americans have grown accustomed to over the past four years from a rotating cast of press secretaries under former President Donald Trump. Some of his press secretaries went weeks or months without holding a briefing.
Zeke Miller gets the first question during a Biden-era press briefing. It's about whether Jen Psaki sees her role as "promoting the interests of the president or are you here to provide truth." Psaki replies by saying she respects the media. No insults. No meltdowns. pic.twitter.com/J3ADgL9uuT
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) January 21, 2021
Several people contrasted Psaki’s debut with that of Sean Spicer, Trump’s first press secretary, who claimed falsely in his first official briefing that Trump had “the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration.” Former senior White House counselor Kellyanne Conway defended him by saying there were “alternative facts.”
As some viewers commented Wednesday, if CJ Cregg ― the beloved press secretary character in the “West Wing” TV series ― is trending on Twitter after your first briefing, you must be doing something right.
President Biden press secretary Jen Psaki is a real life reincarnation of CJ Cregg of West Wing television series fame. Impressive start. Personable, professional, factual. Been a while since we've seen that in the White House press briefing room.
— Don Martin (@DonMartinCTV) January 21, 2021
Such a contrast between Jen Psaki’s debut and Sean Spicer’s crowd size rant four years ago. Spicer’s comments set the tone for four years of falsehoods and worse. Did Psaki’s first appearance set the tone for the next 4-8 years? pic.twitter.com/M8y5uhjjJa
— James Hohmann (@jameshohmann) January 21, 2021
Press Secretary Jen Psaki: "I'd love to take your questions."
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) January 21, 2021
You know you did a good job at your first presser as Press Sec. when CJ Cregg trends immediately following
— Joy | ted lasso fyc (@oharasemmys) January 21, 2021
Jen Psaki is blowing me away.
— Mary L Trump (@MaryLTrump) January 21, 2021
Watching @jrpsaki at the podium is just reassuring! Alternate facts are no longer welcome at the WH podium!
— Karen Finney (@finneyk) January 21, 2021
I can hear CJ Cregg saying this. https://t.co/Jk9JxC70kc
— Dr. Disco Spock MD, FACP (@llapamy) January 21, 2021
Jen Psaki handled economic issues when we got to the White House in 2009. She briefed from the podium at the State Department. She later became the White House communications director. There's literally no one better prepared for the @PressSec job and it shows.
— Tommy Vietor (@TVietor08) January 21, 2021
I was brutal on Jen Psaki when she was at State and WH during what I considered to be a significant lack of seriousness about the invasion of Ukraine.
Watching her now at the White House briefing room is the pure relief of utter normalcy and intelligent responses.
— Tom Nichols (@RadioFreeTom) January 21, 2021
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki says she plans to hold daily White House briefings Monday through Friday.
What a change.
— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche) January 21, 2021
— shauna (@goldengateblond) January 21, 2021
If 4 years ago you had told me that the sight of @jrpsaki at a podium would bring me to tears, I would have laughed in your face.
But 10 min into a @PressSec briefing that is informed, transparent, not telling us to take a hike if we don’t believe the sky is green — I’m undone.
— Molly McKew (@MollyMcKew) January 21, 2021
Just a constant stream of unlies and truthhoods from @PressSec Jen Psaki
— Matt Negrin, HOST OF HARDBALL AT 7PM ON MSNBC (@MattNegrin) January 21, 2021
Strong briefing from @jrpsaki from the first question to the last. Great to see a pro back at that podium. One small issue i loved was Jen stood up there and took questions until the senior reporter ended it. No running off when things get tough. Great job.
— Joe Lockhart (@joelockhart) January 21, 2021
That press briefing by Jen Psaki was just so... normal. And decent. And honest. And respectful.
— MeidasTouch.com (@MeidasTouch) January 21, 2021
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.