For those who closely follow politics, this is the end of an era. Joe Biden’s longtime White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki is stepping down so that she can begin an on-air role over at MSNBC. Meanwhile, Biden has selected a new press secretary: Karine Jean-Pierre. She previously filled in for Psaki in May 2021, when she became the first Black woman in 30 years to address the press in the White House briefing room.
“Karine not only brings the experience, talent and integrity needed for this difficult job, but she will continue to lead the way in communicating about the work of the Biden-Harris Administration on behalf of the American people,” Biden said in a statement. “Jill and I have known and respected Karine a long time and she will be a strong voice speaking for me and this Administration.”
Jean-Pierre officially takes over Psaki’s role on May 16, and you can watch her first press briefing as White House press secretary below.
Jean-Pierre is no stranger to the world of politics, but so far, she has mostly flown under the radar. Now that the world is watching her every move, we have learned some surprising info about her.
What have we learned about Karine Jean-Pierre, and how will it affect her job? Let’s find out!
Her resume is impressive
In many ways, it seems like Jean-Pierre has been preparing for this role her entire life. After graduating from Columbia University in 2003, she served as the director of legislative and budget affairs for New York City Council Member James Gennaro. She later became the southeast regional political director for John Edward’s 2008 presidential campaign. Eventually, she joined Obama’s campaign and, after his victory, joined his administration in the White House Office of Political Affairs.
Later, she helped get Obama re-elected as his National Deputy Battleground States Director. In 2016, she joined Martin O’Malley’s doomed presidential campaign and then joined MoveOn.org. After Joe Biden won the 2020 election, she was asked to join his all-female senior White House communications team before becoming White House Press Secretary now that Jen Psaki is stepping down.
Along the way, she got plenty of media experience, including becoming an MSNBC contributor in 2019. This experience should be invaluable as she steps into her new role.
She is the first Black and openly gay press secretary
Jean-Pierre being appointed press secretary is truly historic. She is the first Black person as well as the first openly gay person to hold the role.
In Jean-Pierre’s book Moving Forward, she revealed that she met with her partner CNN reporter Suzanne Malveaux at the Democratic National Convention in 2012. Two years later, they adopted their daughter Soleil.
Jean-Pierre later revealed to The Haitian Times that becoming a mother was the push she needed to become an advisor for Joe Biden’s 2020 campaign. “I looked at [my daughter] and I thought to myself, ‘There is no way I can not get involved in this election.'”
She protected Kamala Harris from a protestor
Jean-Pierre’s political and media resume is longer than your arm. So she is a perfectly-qualified candidate for the job of White House Press Secretary. But one thing that might have helped her get the gig was protecting Kamala Harris back in 2019!
At the time, Jean-Pierre’s political days seemed far behind her and she was working for MoveOn.org. According to Rolling Stone, Jean-Pierre was leading MoveOn’s Big Ideas forum and interviewing Harris. When a male protestor stormed the stage and grabbed Harris’ microphone, Jean-Pierre sprung up and got between them. And she didn’t stop protecting Harris until the protestor was hauled away by security.
Things obviously worked out well for Harris. And as for Jean-Pierre, she was serving as Harris’ Chief of Staff one year later!
She clashed with Brett Kavanaugh
We don’t need to wait for White House press briefings to get some spicy takes from Jean-Pierre. In fact, she’s happy to drop those takes over on Twitter!
For example, she once reacted to a Root article discussing Brett Kavanaugh’s apparently earnest belief that “Being a Virgin Means You Can’t Sexually Assault Anyone.” Not mincing words, Jean-Pierre replied by tweeting “If Brett Kavanaugh indeed does not know the difference between intercourse and sexual assault — that alone should disqualify him to be a Supreme Court Justice.”
Given Kavanaugh’s contentious role in the leaked Supreme Court decision regarding Roe v. Wade, it’s interesting that we know exactly where Biden’s new White House press secretary stands.
She is no fan of Trump
One thing that Jean-Pierre has never disguised is her disgust for Donald Trump. As BizPacReview reports, she made a 2019 appearance on MSNBC. There, she stridently said that “Donald Trump put his hand on the Bible… and took the oath of the presidency to be a president for all of us.” Continuing, she said that “And since that day, since that moment, every hour, he seems to just prove that to be wrong, right? He is not a president for Black people. He’s not a president for women. He’s not a president for brown people. He’s not a president for the LGBTQ community. He chooses to just double down and triple down on bigotry and racism.”
These comments have resurfaced in conservative circles ever since Jean-Pierre got the job as White House Press Secretary. And should Donald Trump run for president again (as he is indicated he wishes to do), we could see some serious sparks flying in the next few years.
She is outspoken against racism and xenophobia
Remember when we said that Jean-Pierre doesn’t hold back on Twitter? Well, that’s particularly true when politicians are acting foolishly about COVID-19.
At one point, Texas Senator John Cornyn referred to the coronavirus as the “China virus.” This prompted Jean-Pierre to respond via Twitter by saying this was “Dangerous, reckless and scary xenophobic & racist language coming from Republican U.S. Senator John Cornyn.”
A couple of days later, the internet saw a photo of Trump’s notes where he had scratched out “corona” and written “China” as a reminder to use the racist “China virus” term in an upcoming speech. This prompted Jean-Pierre to respond on Twitter by saying “It’s not only racist but deliberate. For those who believe, he says whatever comes to mind — well, here is proof that it’s planned which just is all the more disgusting.”
Regardless of how you feel about the pandemic, it’s gratifying to have a White House press secretary who understands the best approach to a global virus is not to call it silly names.
She champions Critical Race Theory
Jean-Pierre’s willingness to comment on hot-button issues doesn’t end with Brett Kavanaugh. When it comes to conservative reactions against so-called “Critical Race Theory” in schools, Jean-Pierre spoke about the matter with her characteristic bluntness.
When she was asked about how the role of education affected the election victory of Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin, Mediate reports that Jean-Pierre replied that instead of politicians “dictating” what should be in school curricula, the material should be decided by “the parents, the school, the school boards, the teachers and the administrators.” Continuing, she said that “we also need to be honest about what’s going on here. Republicans are lying. They’re not being honest. They’re not being truthful about where we stand and they’re cynically trying to use our kids as a political football. “They’re talking about our kids when it’s election season, but they won’t vote for them when it matters.”
It seems she might have a hard time being the White House press secretary if she’s going to keep dropping microphones like this!