Karine Jean-Pierre, as the new White House press secretary, gave her first briefing on Monday, thanking the “people who broke barriers” before her for making it possible for a black, gay, immigrant woman like herself to rise to one of the best. High profile jobs in the American government.
“I stand on their shoulders. Jean-Pierre said, “I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for people who have overcome obstacles in generations before me.”
President Joe Biden entrusted the responsibility of being its chief spokesperson earlier this month to 47-year-old Jean-Pierre and the daughter of Haitian immigrants. Jen Psaki, who has held the post since the beginning of the administration, resigned from her position last Friday.
Jean-Pierre is the first Black woman and openly LGBTQ person to serve as the White House press secretary. She was the assistant chief press secretary and oversaw the briefing several times. She also regularly held off-camera “gaggles” with the much smaller group of reporters traveling on Air Force One with the president.
Jean-Pierre is taking over as the White House faces a tough battle to help the Democrats hold the House and Senate in the November midterm elections, and the administration struggles to address public concerns about rising consumer prices and the state of the economy.
Biden is also stepping up as he faces a number of daunting foreign policy issues, including Russia’s war against Ukraine and North Korea’s escalating nuclear testing program. Biden will visit South Korea and Japan later this week, then stop in Europe in June.
Jean-Pierre opened Monday’s briefing by sharing brief biographies of 10 Black people killed during a racially motivated shooting attack at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, on Saturday. He will accompany Biden when he visits the city on Tuesday.
“Representation is important,” Jean-Pierre said, adding that she trusts Biden to build a diverse administration, starting with Kamala Harris as the first woman and person to be elected vice president of black and Indian descent.
He tried to distract himself by saying that the White House and the press briefing room belong to the American people and work “for them”.
“It’s not about me. It’s about them,” he said, before vowing to continue working to make sure the White House press team he now directs lives up to Biden’s expectations of providing “truth, honesty, and transparency” to the public.
Jean-Pierre also spoke on Monday of his “enormous respect” for the work of journalists sitting in the briefing room waiting to barrage him with questions.
“The press plays a vital role in our democracy and now more than ever we need a strong and independent press.” “We may not always see eye to eye in this room, that’s okay. This exchange is incredibly healthy and it’s part of our democracy and I look forward to meeting all of you about it.”
Psaki weighed in from the side.
“Proud to know you @PressSec” using Jean-Pierre’s new Twitter handle. “Representation is important. Great job on the first day. I’m rooting for you at home.”
Jean-Pierre worked on the presidential campaign before following Biden to the White House. Prior to the campaign, he was public relations officer for the progressive group MoveOn and a political analyst for NBC and MSNBC. He has also worked on political issues and re-election campaigns in President Barack Obama’s White House, as well as numerous other Democratic political campaigns.