Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, conducted the first news briefing of President Biden’s administration on Wednesday and vowed to bring “truth and transparency back to the briefing room.”
Ms. Psaki’s appearance at the White House lectern just hours after Mr. Biden’s inauguration was designed to draw a stark contrast with the previous administration, which had engaged in verbal combat with reporters and had all-but abandoned briefings.
Unlike Sean Spicer, Mr. Trump’s first press secretary, who lashed out at the news media and lied about Mr. Trump’s inaugural crowd size during his first appearance in the briefing room, Ms. Psaki engaged in a largely civil exchange of information with reporters.
“There will be moments when we disagree, and there will certainly be days where we disagree for extensive parts of the briefing even, perhaps,” she said to about a dozen journalists in the room. “But we have a common goal, which is sharing accurate information with the American people.”
Ms. Psaki, a Connecticut native, worked for a veteran of Capitol Hill, the 2004 John Kerry presidential campaign and Mr. Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns.
During Mr. Obama’s second term, Ms. Psaki served as the chief spokeswoman at the State Department and then was runner-up to be White House press secretary when Jay Carney left the White House and was succeeded by Josh Earnest in 2014. She was Mr. Obama’s communications director through the end of his term.
Ms. Psaki, 42, was a surprise choice to serve as Mr. Biden’s chief spokeswoman; she did not work on his campaign, instead working as a CNN commentator and for private public relations clients. But Mr. Biden’s familiarity with her during the Obama administration outweighed any advantage for others who helped him win election.
Ms. Psaki started the briefing with a rundown of the executive orders that Mr. Biden signed earlier in the evening. She then answered a series of questions, including providing information about planned calls between Mr. Biden and foreign leaders and answering a question about the government’s response to a recent cyberattack.
Ms. Psaki called on Zeke Miller, a reporter for The Associated Press, to ask the first question. The move was a return to a briefing room tradition — allowing the wire service the first question — that the Trump administration had abandoned.
For reporters and others familiar with news briefings before the Trump administration, her briefing was extraordinarily normal.
“We reserve the right to respond at a time in a manner of our choosing to any cyberattack,” Ms. Psaki said. “But our team is, of course, just getting on the ground today, they’re just getting onto their computers. So I don’t have anything to read out for you or to preview for you at this point in time.”