The PJ Tatler

Kerry Plucks Hagel's Old Spokesman to Replace Psaki

Jen Psaki has a replacement at the State Department: the last spokesman at the Defense Department.

Rear Adm. John Kirby, now retired, was renowned for some of the soundbites he dropped (and the word “zorching”) as Chuck Hagel’s spokesman. When Ashton Carter became Defense secretary, he moved to bring in his own spokesman.

“I am pleased to welcome John Kirby as our new State Department spokesperson,” Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement today. “I first got to know John’s work several years ago, when I was on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and he was spokesperson for Admiral Mike Mullen and then Chief of Information for the Navy.”

“John was known as the Navy’s indispensable utility player – it didn’t matter whether he was serving as an instructor at the U.S. Naval Academy, a public affairs officer for the Blue Angels, or aboard multiple Navy vessels – name the challenge – at every stage of his career, including in his most recent assignment as the Pentagon’s top spokesman, John has stood out for his impeccable judgment, collegiality, and character,” he continued. “And he understands the media – absolutely.”

About plucking a spokesman from the military, Kerry added, “John has always – intuitively, instinctively – gravitated toward diplomacy, and I know that he is looking forward to that focus as he retires from the Navy and moves into civilian life. All of this makes him the perfect person to help tell America’s story to the world.”

Kerry lauded the “extraordinary work” of deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf, “who stepped in seamlessly” as acting spokesperson when Psaki left for the White House.

“Marie has made a contribution to every important thing I’ve done as secretary and plays a particularly important role in leading the communications strategy for our Iran negotiations,” he said. “I am privileged to work with a remarkable team and grateful to each of them for their contributions.”

The parody accounts that were disappointed when Carter moved Kirby aside are anxious to get back to work.