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State Dept's Jen Psaki: Russians "Targeted" Me Because Of My Outfits

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki says she has become a Twitter meme in Russian circles because she is a woman, claiming they "have a bit of a tendency to focus on the outfits I’m wearing and the colors I’m wearing."

Psaki accused Russian outlets like Russia Today of sexism and spreading false rumors that she was fired from the State Department because she has not been at the podium lately. (Psaki's deputy Marie Harf conducted the State Department daily press briefing all last week.) Russia Today responded, saying the shots fired at Psaki on Twitter from Russians are for the "comic relief she provided."

QUESTION: Okay. So just a quick look at Twitter feeds over the last week – looks like in defending U.S. policy from criticism, you yourself have come under criticism in some interesting language and ways. I’m just wondering if you have any indication if these – this criticism, these tweets are from official sources, or just freaks out there, I guess.

MS. PSAKI: (Laughter.) Well, I appreciate the question, believe it or not. I will say I’m in good company, because I’m just one of many American officials – especially women, I will say – targeted by the Russian propaganda machine. They do seem to have a bit of a tendency to focus on the outfits I’m wearing and the colors I’m wearing, and they’ve superimposed my head in photos. And so you’ll have to ask them whether that’s how great powers should make their case on the world stage. I think it’s pretty clear – a pretty clear sign that they don’t have the truth on their side.

And I know, and many people know, that there are efforts by the Kremlin and the machine, the propaganda machine, to discredit a range of officials – including recently myself, as silly as that is – because the United States supports a strong, democratic Ukraine, along with the majority of the international community and the Ukrainian people. So if I get dinged a bit for that, I’m not going to sweat it. I will take it as a badge of honor.

But on the substance, I do have a few points, given some of the criticism that has been out there. First, stating plainly that Russia has had a hand in the unrest in eastern Ukraine is not, quote, β€œuninformed,” as they suggest. It is stating the facts. Second, calling on Russia to pull back troops and engage directly with the Government of Ukraine is not, quote, β€œconfused,” as they suggested. It is the position of the United States Government, the G7 countries, and most of the world.

And lastly, some of you – and you just did now – but some of you have emailed me and asked me about some of the photos and other issues that have appeared in social media and asked me what I think. And I think – bottom line is I don’t think, and I don’t think the Secretary of State or the President of the United States thinks there should be a place in diplomacy for sexism. And what’s sad is that when you have a culture as vibrant as the Russian culture that anyone would stand to accept that. So thank you for your question.

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