When Karine Jean-Pierre was named White House press secretary in May of last year, the move was heralded as a step forward by President Joe Biden.
She became the first openly gay person and the first Black woman to serve in the position, replacing Jen Psaki, who served in the first year and a half of the Biden administration.
“Karine not only brings the experience, talent and integrity needed for this difficult job, but she will continue to lead the way in communicating about the work of the Biden-Harris Administration on behalf of the American people,” President Joe Biden said in a statement at the time. “Jill and I have known and respected Karine a long time and she will be a strong voice speaking for me and this Administration.”
Back in the summer and in the months that followed, critics of the president took aim Jean-Pierre for her job performance – with some suggesting she should be removed from the post for essentially lying to the American people, and for violating the Hatch Act, which is intended to prevent federal employees from using their offices to influence elections.
Explaining Hatch Act Violation
It was months back that NBC News first reported that her repeated use of the term “mega MAGA Republicans” in the run-up of last year’s midterms was in violation of the act, according to the Office of Special Counsel.
“Because Ms. Jean‐Pierre made the statements while acting in her official capacity, she violated the Hatch Act prohibition against using her official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with or affecting the result of an election,” wrote Ana Galindo‐Marrone, who leads the agency’s Hatch Act Unit.
The Office of the Special Counsel opted not to pursue disciplinary action and instead issued Jean-Pierre a warning letter.
Jean-Pierre used the term “MAGA” four times – while less than 10 days earlier, President Biden also referred to “mega MAGA Republicans” in a speech at the Democratic National Committee (DNC) headquarters.
Allegations of Lying by Karine Jean-Pierre
Also back in the summer, Fox News host Sean Hannity accused the press secretary of lying to the American people after a small quantity of cocaine was found in the White House over the Fourth of July holiday weekend.
Hannity suggested Jean-Pierre was lying when she said the Biden family wasn’t home prior to the narcotics being found.
“Joe and Hunter were both there on Friday evening, or at least until Friday evening, in spite of Karine lying to the American people, saying that they were not there on Friday when in fact they were,” Hannity stated.
Business as Usual?
It has been suggested that Karine Jean-Pierre is in over her head in her role as press secretary.
However, the truth may be that it is simply an impossibly hard job – especially as the country is so deeply divided. Journalists are supposed to be an unbiased filter that asks hard questions regardless of who is the current occupant of the White House.
That hasn’t been the case since… ever. Yet, it is far worse today.
The liberal-leaning media will often – but not always – throw softball questions to Jean-Pierre, while the conservative press will throw hand grenades. Of course, under former President Donald Trump, it could be argued that the liberal media lobbed cluster bombs!
But it is far worse today, as noted simply by Sean Hannity’s rhetoric. We can imagine that if the cocaine had been found on Sunday (as it as was), Hannity might have suggested, “President Trump and Don Jr. left the building on Friday evening, so what (previous press secretary) Kellyanne Conway said is absolutely true, despite the media hounding the president for being in the White House days earlier!”
In other words, it cuts both ways.
And let’s not forget that it was in June 2019 that Conway also faced calls to be fired for violating the Hatch Act.
“As a highly visible member of the Administration, Ms. Conway’s violations, if left unpunished, send a message to all federal employees that they need not abide by the Hatch Act’s restrictions. Her actions thus erode the principal foundation of our democratic system — the rule of law,” the Office of Special Counsel wrote to President Trump at the time.
Jean-Pierre is Simply the Mouthpiece of the Biden White House
There is no denying that Jean-Pierre has proven to be a somewhat ineffective communicator. But is she worse than Jen Pskaki who was repeatedly mocked on social media for her catchphrase, “We’ll have to circle back” whenever she was unable to answer questions from the media – including the softball ones?
There had also been reports that while serving as press secretary to former President Trump, Sarah Huckabee Sanders lied to the press, while similar allegations were also made of her predecessor Sean Spicer.
Neither had what could be called a good relationship with the press. But they’re far from alone.
In fact, to date, 35 individuals have served as the White House press secretary. George Akerson first took on the role in March 1929, and he was noted for having difficulties in relations with the White House Press corps.
That is simply a tradition that continues to this day.
Karine Jean-Pierre may be considered a disaster, but that’s only because of the difficult job of being the mouthpiece for the Biden Administration. It is doubtful that respected journalist Edward R. Murrow or even Clark Kent (who is also literally Superman) could do any better in the role.
Author Experience and Expertise
A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.