Current White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and John Kirby, Coordinator for Strategic Communications at the National Security Council in the White House, want KJP’s job. Who will be victorious?
The only way this story became public is that it was leaked by one of the two contenders or by someone who supports one of them. It was reported by Axios, a reliable ally of the White House. I’m surprised the story wasn’t leaked to Politico. Anyway, break out the popcorn because John Kirby is playing a bigger role than he did originally.
Kirby began his time in the Biden White House as the Pentagon press secretary. That seemed to be a good fit for him. Kirby is a retired Navy rear admiral. In May 2022 he was placed in his current position. When Kirby went to NSC, he quickly became a co-White House press security with KJP. He briefs the press corps on the big issues like the Israel-Hamas war, and the war in Ukraine. He is the experienced, knowledgeable adult in the room.
Let’s face it – KJP reads answers from her book and is very clumsy if she has to wing it with an answer. She just isn’t very bright. She also has no problem with lying for the administration. For example, this week she said, with a straight face, that razor wire does not work at the southern border. That same day, a House Republican delegation was at the border in Eagle Pass, Texas. They witnessed illegal immigrants unable to enter Texas after crossing the Rio Grande River because there were not Border Patrol agents at that spot. The illegals had to turn around and go back across the river to Mexican soil. Maybe KJP doesn’t want to talk about Biden’s DOJ suing Texas over using razor wire barriers to keep illegal immigrants out.
When Kirby was called upon to help do the daily White House press briefings, it did look like a diss to KJP. The problem is that she deserved the diss. She is truly the worst White House press secretary I have ever seen, and I’ve seen some less than stellar ones through the years. She is a shining example of the folly of Biden relying on diversity hires over qualified individuals. She checked three important boxes – immigrant, lesbian, black woman – so she replaced Jen Psaki. Like her or not, Psaki was a decent press secretary. I didn’t agree with her but she could speak on a number of topics without referring to her talking points in the binder.
KJP is Baghdad Bob. She lies to protect the president and doesn’t care that the press knows she’s lying. Very few bother to push back and question her answers. They protect Biden, too.
There is tension, it is reported, between KJP and Kirby over who gets more time at the podium during press briefings. Jealousy and professional ambition have reared their ugly heads. This is particularly bad timing because Biden is beginning a tough re-election year and needs a unified communications shop.
Axios gives the spicy details of the backstage drama.
As President Biden heads into a tough re-election campaign, his top-ranking spokespeople are at odds while navigating a situation in which there’s one press secretary in name but two in practice — one for domestic policy, the other for foreign policy.
Some of the tension stems from how much time each gets at the podium each day.
Kirby — a Biden favorite who has become the public face of the administration’s response to the Israel-Hamas war — has told people he’d like to be White House press secretary one day.
Jean-Pierre has told people she plans to stay in the job through the election and beyond if Biden wants her — and that he has asked her not to leave.
A White House official told Axios that Kirby never volunteers that he would like to be press secretary.
Jean-Pierre and Kirby have split the podium in the White House pressroom more frequently since the Israel-Hamas war began in October — aggravating tensions that began in the spring of 2022, when Jen Psaki departed as press secretary, current and former Biden officials said.
You hate to see it happen.
Of course John Kirby should be the press secretary if he wants that job. KJP is a disaster. It is normal for each daily press briefing to contain a whopper of a lie from her. She is of the progressive wing of the Democrat Party. Kirby is more moderate, more of the traditional Democrat Party. It is no wonder that there is tension. They are of two different worlds. Plus, Kirby actually knows what he is talking about. I may not agree with the positions he articulates from the podium but I never think he is out of his league with the questions he receives.
Kirby is said to have developed a close relationship with the president. One of Biden’s top advisers, Anita Dunn, brings Kirby along on domestic trips so he can brief Biden on Air Force One. He already accompanies the president on foreign trips.
I don’t think KJP works well with others. Deputy White House Press Secretary Olivia Dalton also has a dicey relationship with KJP.
Jean-Pierre’s relationship with her principal deputy, Olivia Dalton, also has been bumpy. Dalton voiced frustrations during her first year, when she didn’t brief from the podium despite several months of practice sessions.
Dalton has conducted more gaggles on Air Force One recently, but has briefed reporters from the podium just once — last June.
A White House aide who works closely with Jean-Pierre and Dalton told Axios: “They have been friends for over a decade and have a strong relationship.”
It’s easy to think that KJP would have never gotten the job in the first place – she had no experience for the position – but for checking boxes. In a sane world, Kirby would have the job by now. This is Biden’s America, though, and diversity rules. We’ll see how this plays out.