Watchdog Says Psaki's Criticism of Fox's Peter Doocy Violated Government Ethics

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Posted: Apr 19, 2022 11:00 PM
Watchdog Says Psaki's Criticism of Fox's Peter Doocy Violated Government Ethics

Source: AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

A government watchdog is calling for an ethics investigation into White House press secretary Jen Psaki after she publicly criticized Fox News ahead of her expected departure for competing network MSNBC.

Last week, Psaki was asked during an appearance on the "Pod Save America" podcast whether Fox News White House correspondent Peter Doocy "is a stupid son of a b---h" or if he "just plays one on TV," a reference to President Joe Biden's hot-mic moment from earlier this year in which he said Doocy was a "stupid son of a b---h."

Responding to the question on the podcast, Psaki said, "[Doocy] 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 b---h."

Now, the watchdog group Protect the Public's Trust is asking the Office of Government Ethics and the Department of Justice to launch an investigation into Psaki over her comments, given that she is reportedly planning to soon leave her current position for a media role with MSNBC.

In a Tuesday letter to White House council Dana Remus, U.S. Office of Government Ethics director Emery Rounds and Public Integrity Section of the Department of Justice chief Corey Amundson, the watchdog said that it believes it to be "imperative that high level officials such as Ms. Psaki comply fully with their ethical obligations while seeking non-federal employment."

"Recent events have given reason to doubt that this is happening," Protect the People's Trust director Michael Chamberlain wrote in the letter, which was obtained by Townhall. "For example, on April 14, 2022, Ms. Psaki engaged in an apparent misuse of her official position when she publicly disparaged Fox News, a competitor of her reported future employer. Moreover, Ms. Psaki has continued to brief reporters from the White House podium, including reporters from networks she has reportedly been negotiating with, without any apparent restrictions, creating a potential conflict of interest."

"The appearance of a conflict of interest risks further damaging the already low level of public trust in government," the letter continued. "In order to restore public trust and live up to Ms. Psaki's own commitment to transparency and engagement, we are calling upon you to investigate whether Ms. Psaki violated her ethical duties, either in her remarks regarding Fox News or in her conduct while negotiating non-federal employment more generally."

The letter's mention of Psaki's commitment to transparency is in reference to a Jan. 20, 2021 press briefing, when she emphasized the" importance of bringing truth and transparency back to the briefing room" and the "importance of setting an example of engagement and transparency."

The watchdog further requested the release of ethics records relating to Psaki's efforts to find non-federal employment.

"We call upon you to investigate whether Ms. Psaki misused her position and created the appearance of an impermissible conflict of interest," the letter reads. "We also call upon you to release records relating to Ms. Psaki's recusals and negotiations for non federal employment."

The White House, unlike other federal agencies, is not subject to Freedom of Information Act requests but the watchdog group still insisted that the White House release the public records in order to live up to Psaki's promise of bringing "transparency" back to the press briefing room and to "hold itself to the same standards as the rest of the federal government."