News / USA

US Spokeswoman Shrugs Off Attacks from Russian Bloggers, Media

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki, shown at far right on April 13, 2014, has faced harsh attacks from Russian state media and bloggers
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki, shown at far right on April 13, 2014, has faced harsh attacks from Russian state media and bloggers
Natasha MozgovayaMike Eckel
She’s has songs written about her. She’s had Photoshopped images of her go viral. She’s had a verb named in her honor. In some parts of the Russian-language blogosphere, she’s become a minor celebrity.
 
Not in a good way.
 
Jen Psaki is the face of the U.S. State Department, seen in daily briefings fielding questions from reporters from around the world, trying to articulate U.S. foreign policy.
 
She’s also the target of a relentless and unrivaled swirl of derision, mockery and outright insults coming from Russian bloggers, newscasters and state-run media, which operate under the thumb of the Kremlin.
 
"I take it as a badge of honor,” Psaki told VOA’s Russian Service. “It is funny and entertaining that there has been a lot of time spent dedicated to Photoshopping pictures and different attacks on me over the course of time.”
 
“I am in a good company: U.S. officials. In fact, many women who are U.S. officials over time who also have been victims of the same Russian propaganda machine, so I take it all in stride,” she said.
 
That one of the top public officials of the U.S. government is being mocked isn’t new. What’s new is how personalized and vitriolic the attacks are, coming mainly via services such as Twitter and LiveJournal.
 
The campaign appears to have gotten at least a wink and a nudge, if not imprimatur, from the Kremlin. It also reflects the harsh rhetoric and accusations that have been slung back and forth by Washington and Moscow on the crisis in Ukraine.

Moscow asserts that the government that took over after Viktor Yanukovych's ouster as president in February was populated by Nazis and radical nationalists, and that Washington was directly backing it. Washington, for its part, has asserted that Moscow is directly funding and managing the insurgency roiling eastern Ukraine.
 
What is Psaking?

Dmitry Kiselyov, the man who anchored Russia’s dominant news program on the state-run TV broadcaster before being tapped as the Kremlin’s main propaganda chief, has helped popularized the term "psaking.”
 
In a recent broadcast, he asserted that: "People say [psaking] when someone makes a dogmatic statement about something they don’t understand, mixes the facts up, and then doesn’t apologize."
 
Much of the derision has focused on Psaki’s misstatements and slips of tongue, most of which have been minor. For example, at a press briefing April 10, she answered a question about Russian natural gas transport, saying that gas largely flowed from Europe to Ukraine and Russia.
 
She immediately corrected herself, and her comments were ignored by the majority of the media. Russia bloggers, however, piled on, saying it demonstrated the ignorance of the U.S. government.
 
The state-run English-language TV channel RT has created a slideshow dedicated to what it has called Psaki’s misstatements. Dmitry Rogozin, a firebrand who was formerly ambassador to NATO and is now a vice prime minister, tweeted that the Psaki press briefing "lacked a laugh track." He followed up with a derisive tweet addressed to Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, saying, "Please tell Lavrov to bring Psaki some textbooks.”
 
Some bloggers even asserted Psaki had been fired by the State Department for the gaffes, setting up the Twitter hashtag #SavePsaki to sarcastically support her. She was not fired.
 
Russia’s top diplomat to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, offered semi-diplomatic commentary when asked directly by a state TV reporter if he knew her whereabouts.
 
“I don’t know where Psaki has gone off to,” he told the Rossiya TV reporter, but said he hoped she would "appear again… I’ve always found it very interesting to listen to her.”
 
History of diplomatic derision

Psaki isn’t the first U.S. government representative to be on the receiving end of Russian mockery—official or unofficial. Michael McFaul, who was ambassador to Moscow from 2012 to 2014, was stalked by Russian state TV reporters and routinely lambasted on Twitter, LiveJournal and other Russian blog sites.
 
In the VOA interview, Psaki appeared to suggest that the personal vitriol was being organized or, at least, endorsed by the Kremlin.
 
"I do think that there is a question that I think those who are involved and are behind these attacks should think about: that is, whether these are the actions of a world superpower, which Russia is," she said.
 
"Should they be exerting their attention towards these personal, these inaccurate attacks toward me and other United States officials?" she asked. "I think it's pretty clear what's behind this: the disagreement over the Ukraine and our policies on Ukraine."

You May Like

China May Be Biggest Winner From Ukraine Crisis

Missile sales, oil and gas shipments are among many areas that may drive Beijing and Moscow closer together in coming years More

Obama Faces Chaotic World, Limits of Power

Current foreign policy issues bring into focus challenges for US policymakers who are mindful of Americans' waning appetite for overseas military engagements More

SADC Meeting Lesotho Officials to Resolve Stalemate

Official says regional bloc has been engaged with leaders in Lesotho to resolve political disagreement that led to coup attempt More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Igor
June 14, 2014 3:14 PM
She really entertaines Russian people, saying something like "We'll sent the 6th Fleet of the United States to the coasts of Belarus".

In Response

by: Andrey Petrov
June 15, 2014 5:03 AM
Yeah, that was something. She showed her complete ignorance because Belarus doesn't have any coasts at all.


by: Gennady from: Russia, Volga Region
June 14, 2014 12:56 PM
The article is written hastily and culturally insensitive, as if there wasn’t such a thing as Russian language. The authors don’t know that the pronunciation of name of “Psaki” in Russian and in some Slavonic languages is the HOMONYM of a vulgar word “URINE”. Therefore, it is wrong to suggest that the personal vitriol of Miss Psaki was endorsed by the Kremlin. To the contrary, it was endorsed by the person who appointed Miss Psaki to appear in front of Slavonic nations, who was culturally ignorant with respect to these cultures. I wonder what would be the reaction of an American auditorium if in front of them had appeared “Miss Urine”? Therefore, Russian people have all rights to laugh at the name of "Psaki". By defending the gross incompetence that had been demonstrated by Miss Psaki, the authors of the article encourage unprofessionalism and negligence perpetrated in very responsible job a press-secretary of any high-ranking official is.

In Response

by: Goldingen from: Mittawa
June 15, 2014 1:40 AM
This coincidence of individual words of different meaning but sounding similarily in various languages is rather often. Thus the word Putana in several countries means " a street-walker" however a close-sounding surname belongs to a quite respectable getleman in another country.


by: Surena from: Ottawa Ont.
June 13, 2014 12:44 PM
I have always found Ms Jen Psaki a professional articulated spokeswoman for US State Dept. I am sure that she is totally ignoring all this mockery campaign orchestrated by a New USSR.
Bravo Jen !


by: R from: from Morder with love
June 13, 2014 9:04 AM
I love Jen Psaki, she is a worthy person. But Kiselov is TV troll.

In Response

by: jpsquaddie from: kosovo
June 17, 2014 8:48 AM
Please wake up and research just what that retarded woman says, she lies daily and is an embarrassment to American politics!

In Response

by: Paul from: Odessa (Ukraine)
June 16, 2014 6:08 PM
Hmm. I like it too. Never thought I'd see such a comment. Correctly Kiselev idiot. :)


by: Donald Fraser Miles from: Elliot Lake, Canada
June 13, 2014 8:38 AM
I've made and have been the recipient of inappropriate remarks on the internet. I think Russia as with all nations should encourage their own national defence departments not to participate in personalized attacks. The functions of government and legitimate political analysis require a degree of protection from maliciousness. I am surprised at how effective a personal level of attack can be in my experience in causing one to withdraw from commentary. It is necessary to continue onwards with good writing or speaking as if the criticisms had not been ever made. One can find strength in literature and philosophy to keep one focused on good writing. I am sure Jen Psaki can do the same and may not be as affected as I sometimes have been by the discourse on the internet.

In Response

by: Halard Forkbeard from: Urmala
June 19, 2014 5:12 AM
The fact remains that Psaki's last name strikes a funny cord in a Russian ear as it sounds like Ms Urine.

Unfortunate, but true especially when coupled with her utter lack of understanding of issues involved in the ongoing Russian and Ukrainian situations.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid