Karine Jean-Pierre, who last year became the first Black woman in three decades to address the media from the White House briefing room, will soon take over that role full-time as the Biden Administration’s press secretary.
Jean-Pierre will succeed outgoing press secretary Jenn Psaki, who held the job since Biden was inaugurated and is leaving to take an on-air role at MSNBC. Jean-Pierre will be the first Black woman and the first openly-gay person to hold the position.
Jean-Pierre is currently Psaki’s second-in-command in the press office and has several times handled the daily press briefing in which reporters question, if not spar with, the administration’s spokesperson on a variety of issues. Last May, she became the first Black woman since Judy Smith, who was deputy press secretary for President George H.W. Bush, to host the daily press briefing. That was in 1991; if you track time by the hip-hop eras, it was the same year Tribe Called Quest dropped The Low End Theory, Public Enemy released Apocalypse ‘91, Ice Cube broke up with NWA and rappers still enunciated. In other words, a really long time ago.
It’s an unofficial African-American proverb that if you truly need something fixed, ask a Black woman, and the timing of Jean-Pierre’s ascension may highlight the wisdom in that statement. She’ll assume the role of the Biden administration’s public face before the media as the president’s approval rating is in the basement and as he faces bad news on multiple fronts: a drawn out war in Ukraine, skyrocketing inflation, high interest rates, a Supreme Court potentially poised to effectively snuff out women’s right to an abortion and midterm elections in which her party is at risk of losing a majority in Congress.
That last item would effectively make Biden a lame duck president with half his term remaining, as a Republican-controlled Congress would be somewhere between unlikely and absolutely, positively guaranteed not to act on any of the remaining items on his already flailing agenda. Republicans are also likely to shut down the committee investigating many of their own members’ roles in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol. Jean-Pierre’s new role won’t have anything to do with Congressional campaigns, but Biden’s ability to communicate the importance of his agenda will be a factor in whether Democrats remain in control of the House and Senate.