Who Will Replace Jen Psaki? White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki is reportedly in talks with MSNBC to join the network after she leaves her position in the White House in May according to an unnamed source familiar with discussions.
After weeks of speculation that Psaki may be leaving the White House to take a position on TV news – something that is not exactly uncommon for members of the White House communications team – Axios reports that the White House press secretary has told senior officials in the Biden administration that she plans to depart her current position and join MSNBC.
However, the same report claims that Psaki has not formally told the White House press team about her plans to leave.
MSNBC declined to comment on the story, as did a White House official asked about the story by CNN.
“Jen is here and working hard every day on behalf of the President to get you the answers to the questions that you have, and that’s where her focus is,” the official told the network.
Notably, if Psaki does leave to take the rumored TV gig, she will be the second senior Biden administration communications official to leave the White House and Join MSNBC, following in the footstep of Vice President Kamala Harris’ former spokesperson Symone Sanders. Sanders is expected to begin hosting a new MSNBC show during the weekends sometime in May.
While it looks increasingly likely that the president’s first press secretary will be stepping down this year, what is totally unclear at this stage is who will replace her.
We do know, however, that there are at least four communications officials directly beneath Psaki who are among the most likely to be promoted to the top job, given their experience filling in for Psaki and fulfilling similar roles.
Here are four Biden White House communications staffers most likely to take Jen Psaki’s place.
Deputy White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre is the obvious choice for the Biden administration, having already led a large number of press conferences over the last year.
Jean-Pierre is also a Black woman and would give the diversity-conscious president an opportunity to hire the first-ever Black female White House press secretary. One source from within the White House said that Jean-Pierre had been “groomed” for the position and that it would “backfire” if the president chose not to hire her in the event that Psaki leaves.
After nominating the first-ever Black female to the United States Supreme Court, it’s not hard to see how the Biden White House would use Psaki’s resignation as an opportunity to make history a second time.
Formerly the “Director of Rapid Response” for the Biden for President campaign and a spokesperson for the Biden-Harris transition team, Andrew Bates was hired as a Deputy Press Secretary at the White House in March of 2021.
While Bates doesn’t often take the podium in the White House Press Briefing Room, he does regularly address reporters in other environments, including during Air Force One flights.
Bates did address reporters from Jen Psaki’s podium in March while both the White House Press Secretary and deputy Karine Jean-Pierre were self-isolating after testing positive for COVID-19.
Chris Meagher, also presently a White House Deputy Press Secretary, took on the role in March of 2021. Despite spending several years in communications, his experience in politics is limited. Meagher worked on Senator Jon Tester’s re-election campaign, working as a communications director, in 2018. In 2020, he joined Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s team as a communication advisor, and also served as the national press secretary for Pete Buttigieg’s 2020 presidential campaign.
Meagher also served as the deputy director of public affairs at the Department of Transportation after Buttigieg was appointed as secretary.
Kate Bedingfield, White House Communications Director, also helped fill in for Psaki and Jean-Pierre during their recent absence, taking the mic for two days.
One administration official told The Hill that the COVID-19 isolation period was a “bit of a tryout for all of them,” referring to the White House’s communications team.
40 years old, Bedingfield is a long-time Biden associate. In 2015 she became the then-vice president’s communications director after previously serving in the Obama administration’s media team. Later, Bedingfield became the deputy campaign manager for the Joe Biden 2020 presidential campaign.
Her long history with the Biden administration makes her a strong contender to replace Psaki, though she may be overshadowed by Jean-Pierre and the political message that appointing her as the first Black female press secretary would send.
Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.