Flashback: Here's What Jen Psaki Said About Biden Before She Worked for Him


Now that Jen Psaki is the White House press secretary, I’d like to circle back to what she had to say about Joe Biden during the campaign.

Psaki wasn’t all complimentary toward the man who would become her boss, even though she still claimed to retain some affection toward him. Shortly after she was picked as the intermediary between the president and press in November, Fox News’ Tucker Carlson dug up some of her remarks after Biden had made one of the many, many gaffes that pockmarked the early stages of his campaign — before the basement phase, of course.

In October of 2019, Biden was asked a question at a town hall regarding high HIV rates among black Americans. As part of his response, he brought up measures taken to fight HIV in the past, nothing that gay bathhouses were singled out in the early years of the epidemic due to the fact public officials believed promiscuous individuals were spreading the virus through anonymous sex there. (They were, but it’s considered impolitic to say so.)

The problem was that Biden didn’t put it quite so coherently during the forum, moderated by CNN’s Anderson Cooper.

“Remember, Anderson? Back 15 to 20 years, we talked about this, in, in San Francisco was all about well, you know, gay bathhouses,” Biden said.

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“It’s all about round-the-clock sex. C’mon, man!”

Let’s leave aside Biden’s inability to put together the building blocks that comprise coherent thought, which brings to mind nothing so much as 6-month-old grappling with Duplos.

Do you think Jen Psaki is doing a good job as White House press secretary?

Lest we forget, he’s saying this to the openly gay Anderson Cooper. When it comes to an uncomfortable bit of conversation addressed to a member of a minority group from an out-of-touch person who thinks that they aren’t, this puts to shame the time my mother tried to convince some black family friends that she had some passing familiarity with hip-hop because she knew the word “jiggy.”

Anyhow, I’d actually forgotten about this because it was roughly the 26th-worst thing Biden said before the interminable debate/town hall season was shut down due to the exigencies of 2020. At the time, Psaki — the final communications director of the Obama White House — was a commentator on CNN.

While she laughed at the clip, she didn’t sound like she thought it augured well for Biden’s candidacy.

“There have been a number of moments where even those of us who have affection for Vice President Biden think, ‘What on the Earth is happening now?'” Psaki said.

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“Part of his appeal is that he says things that your uncle says and that people feel comfortable with him, and it’s a return to normalcy,” she added.

Psaki could well have been hedging her employment options for 2021. October of 2019 was when the façade of Biden’s inevitability began to crumble, with Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren briefly taking the lead in the Democratic primary race. That said, this doesn’t come across as complimentary in any shape or form.

We’ll circle back to Psaki in a bit, however. Tucker Carlson looked at other members of Team Biden who were similarly scathing during the campaign.

There’s Kamala Harris, now the vice president. We all remember her inflicting the first serious wound to Biden campaign during the opening debate of the election cycle:

Months earlier, she said the women who accused Biden of sexual harassment should be listened to.

“I believe them, and I respect them being able to tell their story, and I encourage them to do it,” she said, after a string of women had gone public with stories about Biden’s behavior.

Harris was well out of the race for president and clearly within the range of choices for vice president by the time former Senate staffer Tara Reade levied a sexual assault allegation against Biden in April 2020, so we don’t know what her reaction would be then.

In any event, Psaki called Biden daft. Harris implied he could be a racist or guilty of sexual misconduct. Both coalesced around Biden because, well, of course they did — once he became the only option in the Democratic field.

However, what does this say about Biden’s judgment, bringing on people who treated him with contempt throughout 2019? What will Psaki say when Biden inevitably makes a verbal stumble, particularly if this clip is referenced?

Will she say that Biden is popular because he’s like your uncle?

Will she openly wonder what on the Earth is happening now?

Probably not, but she’ll definitely circle back to us on that.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture