Jen Psaki holds final briefing as White House press secretary

Spokeswoman honours the Bidens, media and press department in final exchange with reporters

Jen Psaki paid tribute to US President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden, as well as the press department and members of the media in her last press briefing as White House spokeswoman on Friday.

Ms Psaki said one of her first conversations with Mr Biden after his presidential victory in November 2020 focused on “the importance of returning integrity, respect and civility to the White House”.

Ms Psaki pledged to resume daily White House briefings when accepting the job 15 months ago after the daily routine became an increasing rarity under former president Donald Trump's administration.

Friday's briefing was Ms Psaki's 224th during her time as White House spokeswoman, surpassing the total 205 conducted by the four press secretaries under the Trump administration, said Martha Joynt Kumar, director of the White House Transition Project.

The press secretary, who admitted she let out her “Irish side” at times during her 15-month stint, thanked reporters for holding the Biden administration accountable and for holding debates with her at the podium.

Ms Psaki's skirmishes with Fox News correspondent Peter Doocy occasionally grew contentious and videos of their exchanges often racked millions of views on social media.

“That is democracy in action,” she told reporters. “Without accountability, without debate, government is not as strong and you all play an incredibly pivotal role.”

Karinne Jean-Pierre was named as Ms Psaki's successor and will be the first black woman and member of the LGBTQ+ community to hold the position.

Ms Psaki said the incoming press secretary will “bring her own magic, her brilliance, her style to this briefing room”.

The departing press secretary also paid tribute to the rest of the White House press team, fighting back against beliefs that the nation's capital is “rotten”.

“I believe the opposite is true,” she said, holding back tears. “Because I have worked with and engaged with all of these incredible people across the administration and this amazing team.

“These people are already the stars of the team, but they're going to be shining stars in the future and I'll miss them a lot.”

Updated: May 13, 2022, 8:42 PM
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