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

Kurdish President: More Needed to Defeat Islamic State

In interview with VOA's Persian Service, Massoud Barzani says peshmerga forces have not received weapons, logistical support needed to successfully fight IS in northern Iraq More

Sierra Leone's Stray Dog Population Doubles During Ebola Crisis

Many dog owners fear their pets could infect them with the virus and have abandoned them, leading to the increase and sparking fears of rabies More

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

New methods for mapping pain in the brain not only validate sufferers of chronic pain but might someday also lead to better treatment 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.
New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Paini
X
Shelley Schlender
April 20, 2015 7:03 PM
Pain has a purpose - it can stop you from touching a flame or from walking on a broken leg. As an injury heals, the pain goes away. Usually. But worldwide, one out of every five people suffers from pain that lasts for months and years, leading to lost jobs, depression, and rising despair when medical interventions fail or health experts hint that a pain sufferer is making it up. From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Italy Rescues Migrants After Separate Deadly Capsize Incident

Italy continued its massive search and rescue operation in the Mediterranean Monday for the capsized boat off the coast of Libya that was carrying hundreds of migrants, while at the same time rescuing Syrian migrants from another vessel off the coast of Sicily. Thirteen children were among the 98 Syrian migrants whose boat originated from Turkey on the perilous journey to Europe.
Video

Video New Test Set to Be Game Changer in Eradicating Malaria

The World Health Organization estimates 3.4 billion people are at risk of malaria, with children under the age of five and pregnant women being the most vulnerable. As World Malaria Day approaches (April 25), mortality rates are falling, and a new test -- well into the last stage of trials -- is having positive results in Kenya. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA from Nairobi.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.

VOA Blogs