Karine Jean-Pierre clearly made history in May 2022 by becoming the first Black and openly LGBTQ+ White House Press Secretary.
As part of her role, Jean-Pierre, 49, has been President Joe Biden’s spokesperson, facing off reporters’ questions over any topic relevant for the day. So far, she has faced questions over the war in Ukraine, rising inflation, Hunter Biden and, more recently, assistance to Israel in its fight against Hamas.
Anyone who’s faced the media will tell you it’s not an easy task. One mishap or accidental remark could have huge ramifications. It’s not the later White House corrections that fascinates the media, but the mishaps themselves.
That said, when you’re the press secretary for the highest office in the land, you need to be on your game 100% of the time. And Jean-Pierre, unfortunately, hasn’t.
Karine Jean-Pierre’s Rise Through The Ranks
Born in Martinique, France, Jean-Pierre became a regional director for John Edwards’ and Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns in 2004 and 2008 respectively.
Prior to joining Biden’s campaign in May 2020, she was a political analyst for NBC News and MSNBC.
Jean-Pierre was named as the Chief of Staff for Biden’s vice-presidential nominee, later revealed to be Kamala Harris, in August 2020. After a successful election, the Biden-Harris transition team named her Principal Deputy Press Secretary, giving her first White House press briefing in May 2021.
Twelve months later, she succeeded Jen Psaki as White House press secretary, who left the role for MSNBC.
She’s only Biden’s second press secretary of his presidency, although there’s no restriction on how many a president can appoint throughout their tenure in office. Trump appointed four during his four years in office, while Obama had three across eight years.
Are There Any Reasons For Departure?
Like any job, reasons for departure can vary. Some will leave voluntarily to pursue new interests (major broadcasters offer large sums for an analyst with insider knowledge of the White House), while others are relieved of their duty.
A key solution to avoid your press secretary moving to a media outlet to scrutinize your every move is to offer them a new role elsewhere – one which involves far less public facing for a similar salary or even higher salary is perhaps not inadvisable. If you fire them outright, they’re unlikely to be too sympathetic on national media when you make a mistake.
Is there any justification for removing Jean-Pierre from her role? Personally, no. She may have her mishaps, but she’s far better at public speaking than the President, and can act as a mouthpiece for a knowledgeable leader when Biden slips up. She’s also experienced, having been with the Biden-Harris team since before his presidency, while her presence acts alone reminds voters that the Democrats are the party for equality.
She certainly won’t win the election for Biden, but she might help prevent him from losing it.
Shay Bottomley is a British journalist based in Canada. He has written for the Western Standard, Maidenhead Advertiser, Slough Express, Windsor Express, Berkshire Live and Southend Echo, and has covered notable events including the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
From the Vault