- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Jen Psaki says renewed criticism of her wearing a communist “hammer and sickle” hat in 2014 should be dismissed as “propaganda machine” disinformation.

The former State Department spokeswoman, now presumptive President-elect Joseph R. Biden’s pick for press secretary, blasted critics on social media for questioning her judgment and loyalty to American ideals.

At issue is a photo in which the Democrat, flanked by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and then-Secretary of State John Kerry, sports a Russian hat with a smile.

“For anyone who hasn’t been the target of Russian propaganda (cc: @McFaul @HillaryClinton ) the purpose is to discredit powerful messengers and to spread misinformation to confuse the public,” Ms. Psaki said of photo Tuesday. “Anyone who repeats it is (unwitting or not) simply a puppet of the propaganda machine.”

Critics in right-leaning social media circles have interpreted the image, taken in the lead-up to the 2014 Winter Olympics, as an ideological indicator of what to expect from a Biden administration and a departure from President Trump’s “America First” agenda.

Karen Townsend of the conservative blog Hot Air found Ms. Psaki’s claim to be bizarre, yet predictable.

“On the one hand, she, a spokesperson, is arrogantly claiming she is a ‘powerful messenger’ and on the other hand she is saying if anyone sees the photo and (rightly) comments on the fact that she is wearing the symbol of Communist Russia, well, that person is a rube for the Russian propaganda machine,” Ms. Townsend wrote Wednesday.

“That is quite an interesting take on the jam she finds herself in, right?… Instead of saying, yeah, it was a dumb thing to do, she doubled-down and blames her critics for speaking up. Welcome back to the Obama days, y’all.”

• Douglas Ernst can be reached at dernst@washingtontimes.com.

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