New State Department spokeswoman takes podium


Jen Psaki at the White House in 2011 (Charles Dharapak/AP)

She also learned a very important lesson: State Department reporters at the briefings can be a bit humor-deprived. You have to help them.

Take, for example, this exchange with a reporter who complained that he had raised a question last week “and I’m still waiting for an answer.” The question was what was State’s account of a meeting officials had last week with a group of South Asian human rights activists.

“Your side of the story please?” the reporter asked.

“Yes, I apologize,” she said. “I don’t have anything new for you on that today. I will — I’m happy to check on it. And we’ll make sure the appropriate person is fired.”

There was a moment of confused silence.

“Just kidding,” Psaki said.

Some reporters started to laugh.

“That’s a joke,” she explained.

More laughter.

Note to Psaki: no kidding from the podium.

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993.

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