All does not seem well in the White House as press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and the National Security Council’s John Kirby reportedly have some tension brewing between them. The reason? How much time they both get during press briefings.
According to a report by Axios, the duo work together because that’s what President Joe Biden wants.
According to sources, Kirby has said he would like to be White House press secretary someday. Jean-Pierre, however, does not have plans to leave her job in the future as she has said she would love to stay through the election and even after. She also reportedly told people that Biden has asked her not to leave.
While White House sources said that Kirby has never volunteered to take Jean-Pierre’s job, he is not comfortable with how she chooses the reporters he takes questions from as he handles foreign policy while she takes care of domestic policy.
Jean-Pierre’s refusal to let Kirby to choose which reporters get to ask him questions has raised eyebrows, especially as she does not do the same with National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan during press briefings. As revealed by some White House aides, she tries to take control of Kirby’s briefings because she is “insecure.”
Per Axios, Jean-Pierre was never pleased with the idea of working side-by-side with Kirby. She was reportedly angry when she was told he would be on her team after she got the job in 2022.
However, there are arguments that Jean-Pierre is not wrong in her handling of the situation as fixing Kirby on her team undermined her from the start and suggested that she could not do her job without supervision as the first Black press secretary for the president of the United States.
For some of Biden’s former and current officials, the pairing of Jean-Pierre and Kirby was not right to start with, considering that Jean-Pierre did not have as much experience as Kirby when it comes to combative briefing environments like she has had to handle since she joined the White House.
Hence, she has made some noticeable errors under pressure, such as talking about Islamophobia when asked about antisemitism.
"What is [Biden's] level of concern right now about a potential rise of antisemitism?"
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE: "Muslims and those perceived to be Muslim have endured a disproportionate number of hate-fueled attacks" pic.twitter.com/q1WYkpbKmn
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) October 23, 2023
Despite them being at loggerheads with each other, Jean-Pierre and Kirby have had to hold press briefings together as Kirby has climbed the podium more frequently as the administration’s face and voice amid the Israel-Hamas war.
Of the more than 30 times the White House has held press briefings since Hamas’ attack on Israel on Oct. 7, Kirby has appeared with Jean-Pierre all but four times – once when she conducted the briefing alone and thrice when she was accompanied by Sullivan instead.