White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre has made it abundantly clear that she’s no one-woman show.
In fact, more often than not, Jean-Pierre has been accompanied at the podium by at least one other person to help her field the rarely tough or probing questions lobbed at her by the national media. A Fox News Digital piece recently calculated that of Jean-Pierre’s 38 press briefings since she began her job in mid-May, she’s had someone beside her in 25 of them.
For instance, she’s had White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan on for a total of eight times. Dr. Ashish Jha, the White House’s COVID-19 advisor, has appeared alongside her four times (three of them during Biden’s ongoing COVID bout), while National Security Council official John Kirby has been her sidekick five times. The White House’s economic advisor Brian Deese has appeared with her twice, and Executive Director of the Gender Policy Council (whatever that is) Jennifer Klein, economic advisor Jared Bernstein, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, and National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy have all shared the spotlight with Jean-Pierre at least once.
And, of course, who could forget the time Matthew McConaughey showed up to talk about gun control?
“Karine believes in providing the White House press corps with access to experts and senior staff who can transparently share the administration’s perspective, as well as outside guests who have specific credibility about issues that are a leading priority for the American people,” deputy press secretary Andrew Bates explained to Fox News. “We’re proud of that.”
But it’s not necessarily a good look for the press secretary, who’s been criticized for her over-reliance on the binder and for not fielding reporters’ questions in a more natural and organic way.
“It is not so bad to have binders of notes available, but reading directly from the binders, as she often does, creates weak impressions for a person who is supposed to be speaking on behalf of the administration,” Jeffrey McCall, a professor and media critic at DePauw University, told Fox News. “Having the administration repeatedly send other spokesmen to the podium would rhetorically signal a lack of confidence in Jean-Pierre’s performance.”
He added: “The White House might be better off to just limit the number of Jean-Pierre’s briefings so as to minimize her exposure. At this point, she is just not boosting the administration’s message or clarifying its policies.” But he also conceded that it’s a “really tough job these days trying to put a happy spin on so many White House problems,” and that Jean-Pierre was essentially handed a thankless job that no one else wanted to do.
“Jen Psaki, as frustrating as she was to many people, [conveyed the White House message and fielded questions] expertly,” Cornell Law School professor William A. Jacobson explained to Fox News Digital.
“Karine Jean-Pierre, by contrast, appears unprepared, inept, and in need of support on stage from others. That’s not a good look for an administration already struggling in the polls.”
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