Karine Jean-Pierre was named Thursday by President Joe Biden to the White House Press Secretary position. She is the first Black woman to hold the post and the first openly LGBTQ person to do so. Jen Psaki, the incumbent, will be leaving the position next week.
Jean-Pierre assumes the role at a time when the White House is fighting to keep Democrats in the House and Senate during this fall's midterm election. Also, as the administration struggles with addressing Americans' concerns about rising inflation and the state the economy, As Vice President Biden is facing a host of foreign policy challenges, Jean-Pierre also has to contend with the ongoing Russian invasion in Ukraine and North Korea’s increasing nuclear testing program. Biden will visit South Korea and Japan later in the month, and Europe in June.
Anita Dunn, a long-time Democratic strategist, is Biden's senior adviser. She was an ex-Biden White House staffer who served for several months last year, shortly after Biden was elected.
Biden praised Jean-Pierre in a statement, stating that "Karine not just brings the experience and talent needed for this challenging job, but she'll continue to lead in communicating about it on behalf of American people."
Psaki, who resigned from the White House May 13th, praised her successor as "partner in truth", noting the importance of the historic appointment.
Psaki stated that representation is important and she will give voice to many and show them what it is possible to work hard and dream big.
Jean-Pierre briefly took the podium while Psaki briefed journalists Thursday. Jean-Pierre stated that she was still processing the significance of her hiring, and called it "an honor to be behind this podium."
She said, "This is an historic moment, and I don't lose sight of it." It's an emotional day.
Psaki stated that Biden offered Jean-Pierre the job Thursday at the Oval Office. An official stated that White House staffers gathered to greet Jean-Pierre after the offer. The official said that two champagne "warm bottles" were purchased for the toast in White House paper cups. He spoke on condition of anonymity to describe this internal gathering.
Jean-Pierre was occasionally the one who took the podium in the press briefing room, instead of Psaki. She also avoided any on-camera "gaggle" with reporters while Biden was flying Air Force One. Biden accompanied her to Europe in September and March, instead of Psaki who had been positive for COVID-19 prior to both trips.
Jean-Pierre was previously the chief public affairs officer at MoveOn.org, and a former political analyst at NBC and MSNBC. She worked on the Obama White House's reelection campaign and in political affairs.
The press secretary oversees the holding of daily briefings with media outlets and the management of a team that includes more than 12 staff members who respond to queries from the media.
Psaki, a mother to two children, stated publicly that she intended to stay in the job for approximately one year after she accepted the job. She will join MSNBC in the latter part of this year. She was expected to continue as the public face for the administration until her departure next week.
Biden stated that Psaki had "set the standard for returning dignity, respect and decorum the White House briefing rooms."
Biden stated, "I want you to thank Jen for setting the bar and communicating directly and honestly to the American people and keeping your sense of humor throughout this process." "I want to thank Jen for her outstanding service and I wish her all the best."
Dunn, a partner in the Democratic consulting firm SKDK and a senior advisor on Biden’s 2020 campaign, was previously Chief Strategist and Communications Director for President Barack Obama. According to the White House, Dunn will be returning to "assist in moving President's policy forward and communicating his objectives."