John Kirby brings tension to White House podium

 February 13, 2024

Since Hamas terrorists attacked Israelis on October 7, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre has had to share her podium more often with Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby--who has just been promoted to assistant to the President and White House national security communications adviser.

Axios described the podium-sharing as a tense situation, but said that President Joe Biden likes it because he feels comfortable with Kirby.

Kirby has been involved in public communications since Jean-Pierre was appointed as press secretary, and it has been unclear whether he was meant to supervise her or work alongside.

Officially, White House officials said the two get along well and talk all the time, but others close to Jean-Pierre reported her frustration with the arrangement.

Spin machine

Sharing press briefings is likely to continue for the foreseeable future with Kirby's new role, Axios said.

Since October 7, Kirby has been present at all but three of Jean-Pierre's briefings, although she still runs the briefings and selects which reporters can ask him questions.

As the first Black female press secretary, Jean-Pierre has been a constant spin machine for the President, but there may have been concerns that she had not handled huge and sensitive issues like Israel's response to Hamas.

Conservative media has been tough on Jean-Pierre for her frequent mistruths on behalf of the President and for refusing to answer questions when those answers would make Biden look bad.

Most notably, Jean-Pierre answered a question about anti-Semitism by talking about Islamophobia, but she later said she misheard the question. It happens, and is not surprising that she would get something wrong when she is in the middle of a rapid-fire briefing and reporters are often shouting questions at her.

Not a miracle worker

Of course, Republicans wish Jean-Pierre would answer questions more honestly and forthrightly, but that's not really her job, is it?

Instead, Jean-Pierre's job is to do exactly what she does: put everything that Biden does in the best possible light and explain away every possible gaffe or mistake in the most positive terms possible.

It's a job she does doggedly, tirelessly, and faithfully, if a little contentiously at times.

Given what she has to work with, she's actually doing about as well as could be expected.

After all, she's not a miracle worker. Biden's gaffes and failed policies are becoming legendary, and making them seem benign is a gargantuan task for anyone.

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