White House Spokesperson KJP’s Worst Fear Has Come True

OPINION:  This article contains commentary which may reflect the author’s opinion

Karine Jean-Pierre has now attended 22 press briefings this year, totaling around 11 hours and 31 minutes, as of February 27. In 19 briefings, Kirby has addressed questions for just under nine hours and two minutes. The press secretary talked for about nine hours and eleven minutes during those 19 briefings while Kirby and Jean-Pierre were together, nearly a perfect fifty-fifty split with her opponent.

“There is no precedent for this. Press secretaries always bring guests, right. It’s like, ‘Hey, we’re gonna have the OMB [the Office of Management and Budget] guys brief you on the budget and talk to you about that.’ That’s normal,” Sean Spicer, one-time press secretary for former President Donald Trump, told the Daily Caller. “That’s as old as the job. But this idea that you have a co-press secretary is unprecedented.”

In addition to Jean-Pierre and Kirby, a few other administration officials with specific policy positions have also appeared at briefings and get-togethers. These individuals include National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, White House Spokesman for Oversight and Investigations Ian Sams, and Deputy Press Secretary Olivia Dalton.

However, none have made as many appearances as Kirby, about whom Jean-Pierre was allegedly worried when she was originally hired as press secretary that he would replace her. When the president appointed Kirby as press secretary in 2022, Biden “awkwardly” added that she would be joining Jean-Pierre’s team, leaving her “upset and confused,” according to Axios.

When Jean-Pierre was hired, her appointment was heralded as historic and significant because she is a lesbian woman of immigrant parents and the first black press secretary. However, things are claimed to have been difficult from the start. Biden is said to have told Jean-Pierre not to worry since she would “have an admiral looking over your shoulder,” a remark that did not sit well with the new press secretary.

Kirby and Jean-Pierre are at odds, and Dalton, Jean-Pierre’s senior subordinate, is allegedly leaving the White House to take a job at Apple.

Kirby now has an easy route to the top position. Axios reports that he expressed interest in the job to some people within the White House, but other sources refuted the claims.

In terms of appearances, Kirby has made more of them lately. In all, he spoke for more than an hour and seven minutes at seven different gaggles between the beginning of the year and February 16. Together, the two have attended four gaggles, during which Jean-Pierre spent more than 41 minutes fielding questions.

“I don’t think the dynamic is awkward to begin with. I think they did it under the presence, under the guise of national security and foreign affairs. But the reality is, Kirby has really taken over a lot more, for obvious reasons,” Spicer said. “The press secretary should be able to handle all of the issues and it’s pretty obvious that there’s a level of competence that just doesn’t exist.”

During a press conference at the White House on February 27, 2024 in Washington, DC, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre (L) and John Kirby, the Coordinator for Strategic Communications at the National Security Council in the White House, field questions.

Kirby’s regular attendance at briefings was previously linked by the White House to the Middle East conflict, and it was stated that he would be featured less once it ends, according to the New York Times.

The Daily Caller requested comment from the White House and the National Security Council, but neither provided it.

Kirby is becoming less often present during the briefings. According to an Axios tally, Jean-Pierre only hosted one press conference or gaggle on Air Force One by herself between the terrorist strike on Israel by Hamas on October 7 and January 5, 2024. Kirby was always with Jean-Pierre, and sometimes National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan as well.

Because the president appreciates it, the spokesperson for the national security council has continued to accompany Jean-Pierre to press briefings, according to Axios. According to reports, Biden has requested that the spokesperson personally brief him and accompany him on all domestic and overseas travels.

The White House is giving matters that voters think they are less worried excessive airtime by dedicating over half of their briefing time with Kirby present to foreign policy. According to a February Gallup poll, Americans have shown that they are more concerned in domestic issues, with immigration currently ranking as the nation’s top concern. Only 3% of Americans believe global aid and international concerns are the most important to them, compared to 28% who say the issue is their top priority.

According to a Gallup study, 20% of Americans ranked government as their top concern, making it the second most popular issue. The top concerns for Americans were “economy in general,” “poverty/hunger/homelessness,” “inflation,” and “unifying the country.”

While Kirby is preoccupied with matters pertaining to foreign policy, Jean-Pierre continues to serve as the administration’s public face on the majority of internal matters. Many of those areas are where Biden’s poll numbers are weak, and some have questioned if she is qualified for the position. Jen Psaki, her predecessor, left the position just short of 16 months.

Certain observers have regarded Kirby’s performance more favorably.

Occasionally, I’ll tweet something like, ‘Kirby did a great job.’ Many [Republicans] have told me that Kirby understands. Actually, I believe that Republicans respect him. Because of this, they pay attention to what he has to say and think he is a reliable messenger. Scott Jennings, a seasoned GOP advisor in Kentucky who has worked on multiple campaigns, told the Daily Caller, “I don’t think anybody respects Karine.”

“And so if you’re a White House, and you’re trying to communicate to the larger world and also the people in Washington, you know, your chief messenger has to be credible and respected. I think Kirby has achieved that.”

“I can’t remember a time when this has happened. I mean, it seems to me they give Kirby all the important things to talk about. And they let her talk about the rest,” Jennings told the Daily Caller.


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