Fox News fired back at White House press secretary Jen Psaki Friday after she attacked the cable news giant, suggesting higher-ups fed White House correspondent Peter Doocy questions that “might make anyone sound like a stupid son of a bitch.”
“In his role as White House correspondent, Peter Doocy’s job is to elicit truth from power for the American public,” a spokesperson for the top-rated network told The Post. “His questions are his own, he is a terrific reporter and we are extremely proud of his work.”
Psaki — who is reportedly weeks away from leaving the White House for a gig with Fox rival MSNBC — made the comment Thursday while recording an episode of “Pod Save America,” which is hosted by ex-Obama White House aides Jon Favreau, Jon Lovett, Dan Pfeiffer and Tommy Vietor.
At one point, Psaki was asked by one of the hosts whether Doocy is a “stupid son of a bitch or does he play a stupid son of a bitch on TV,” as the live audience whooped and cheered.
“OK, um, well,” Psaki began before pausing.
“He works for a network that provides people with questions that — nothing personal to any individual, including Peter Doocy — but might make anyone sound like a stupid son of a bitch.” the press secretary eventually answered.
The question stemmed from a Jan. 24 hot-mic moment from President Biden after Doocy asked whether inflation was a “political liability.”
“No, it’s a great asset — more inflation,” Biden said sarcastically before adding: “What a stupid son of a bitch.”
Jen Psaki remarked during a recent podcast that Fox News puts its correspondents in potentially embarrassing situations. EPA
While the presidential insult was cut from the official White House feed, it was audible on video streamed by C-SPAN.
Doocy revealed to Fox News host Sean Hannity later that evening that Biden had called him roughly an hour later and “cleared the air,” telling Doocy his remark was “nothing personal, pal.”
The Fox News reporter said he “appreciated” the call from the president, but added that “I don’t need anybody to apologize to me. He can call me whatever he wants as long as it gets him talking.”
After her initial response Thursday night, Psaki asked if she could tell “a nice Peter Doocy story” before recounting her experience watching Doocy’s “Hannity” appearance after Biden called the reporter to apologize.
“He [Doocy] could have been, like, ‘He [Biden] is a son of a bitch’ or ‘I’m standing up for –‘ whatever, he could have said anything,” Psaki said. “And instead he said, ‘You know, he called me, we had a really nice conversation, I’m just asking my questions, he’s doing his job.’
President Biden was caught on a hot mic calling Peter Doocy a “stupid son of a bitch.”Variety Media via Reuters
“So, I will say, that was a moment of grace,” the press secretary continued as the audience tepidly applauded. “You don’t have to like everything Peter Doocy says or does, but that is certainly a moment of grace by Peter Doocy.”
The press secretary and Doocy have repeatedly clashed in the White House Briefing Room over various issues since Biden was sworn into office last year.
Psaki’s shot at Fox came days after reports emerged earlier this month that she would leave her post for a hosting and contributing gig with MSNBC and streaming service Peacock as soon as next month.
Psaki said Doocy “works for a network that provides people with questions that … might make anyone sound like a stupid son of a bitch.”The Washington Post via Getty Im
While the press secretary did not immediately respond to The Post’s inquiry on the optics of criticizing a major rival to MSNBC as she reportedly negotiates her next job, her continued presence as the face of the Biden White House has raised ethical concerns.
“The bottom line is that Jen Psaki is a government employee who is openly criticizing a media outlet that is the competitor of her future employer,” Mediate’s Colby Hall wrote. “If Psaki has a ‘handshake deal’ to join NBC after she officially leaves the briefing room podium, then she should reasonably be far more circumspect in not just her future briefings, but in any public appearance in which she is asked about competitors of her future employer.”
Even members of the White House pool have raised concerns, asking Psaki earlier this month how she could remain as President Biden’s chief spokesperson while pursuing future employment at media outlets.
“Is it ethical for you to continue conducting this job while negotiating with the media?” CBS News’ Ed O’Keefe asked during an April 1 briefing.
“I have always gone over and above the stringent ethical and legal requirements of the Biden administration and I take that very seriously,” Psaki said at the time. “And as a standard for every employee of the White House, I have received rigorous ethics counseling, including as it relates to any future employment.”
“How is it ethical to have these conversations with media outlets while you continue to have a job standing behind that?” pressed NBC News’ Kristen Welker, a potential Psaki colleague.
“Well, there are a range of stringent ethical and legal requirements that are imposed on everybody in this administration and many administrations past about any conversations you’re having with future employers,” Psaki said. “That is true of any industry you’re working in. And I have abided by those and tried to take steps to go beyond that as well as the policy of this White House to allow staffers to have discussions even directly with institutions of the impact.”
During the episode, Psaki again declined to indicate how much longer she will work as press secretary but said, “I will not be there forever.”
“I don’t have a date or anything like that, but at some point, I’ll be watching from somewhere else,” she added.
Peter Doocy raises his hand to question Jen Psaki at a press briefing at the White House on Jan. 26, 2022.AP Photo/Andrew Harnik
Psaki also confirmed that the White House has no intention of sending Biden to Ukraine after several European leaders have met with the country’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, in Kyiv in recent days.
“No,” Psaki said when asked about a potential Biden trip to the war zone, before repeating: “No … we are not sending the president to Ukraine. What I will tell you is that — what [British Prime Minister] Boris Johnson did is he took, I believe, an eight-hour train through a war zone to get to the middle of Ukraine. So, no, that is not in the plans for the president of the United States. We should all be maybe relieved about that.”
After the hosts concurred, Psaki added: “You’re welcome, America. We need him to do a lot of things.”
Psaki could be leaving the White House for a role as a political commentator in the coming weeks, according to reports. Twitter / @megan_dunnigan