AUSTIN, Texas — Former White House press secretary and current MSNBC host Jen Psaki was at the SXSW Studio on Friday, in discussion about her new show and perspective on the ever-shifting political landscape.
Psaki, a self-described “proud political and policy nerd,” decided to do her show, "Inside With Jen Psaki," which premieres on March 19, because she believes people want smart content on hard issues. “Here is my North Star,” Psaki said. “I hope that, when people watch the show, they learn something they didn’t know before. Either because they say to themselves, ‘oh, I never thought about it that way,’ or ‘I’ve heard about that issue, but I didn’t really understand what it was about,’ or ‘I’ve seen that person on television, and I know they’re elected, but I didn’t know that thing about them.’”
According to Psaki, one thing she loved best about working in the government was learning about things and explaining them to the world. Her experience there taught her it’s easy to caricature people, but that they can be many different things, an aspect of the Beltway to which she wants to expose to the public. “The other thing we’re hoping to do is to bring people inside people’s lives,” Psaki said.
Part of what makes the current political discourse so difficult, she says, is the jargon that gets thrown around on the issues from policymakers who work in Washington D.C. “People start talking in language that nobody understands, if they don’t live outside of the ZIP code,” she said. “That is something that I curl back from, and I hope that I can change how people are understanding what’s happening in Washington.”
Now that she’s a pundit, Psaki is being asked to weigh in on any number of topics. When asked about the situation with Fox News and the Dominion lawsuit, specifically the idea that recent testimony suggests that Rupert Murdoch knew his hosts were not telling the truth, and did nothing to stop it, Psaki takes a nuanced approach.
She was asked if we should even refer to Fox as a “news network,” and said, “We shouldn’t, but I don’t know if that’s the most important question. They knew better, but they lied about it to the public to keep viewers.” Psaki said. “The piece here that is very difficult and tricky, that I think is not getting enough attention, is Fox News still has an enormous viewership. I don’t know if that’s going to change. Their business model is not getting Democrats on their air, so I understand and completely relate to Democrats who are saying ‘we should ban it, we shouldn’t appear on it.’ They don’t care. Why would they care?”