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‘Trailblazer’ Karine Jean-Pierre makes history with White House press briefing

Maggie Baska May 27, 2021
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Karine Jean-Pierre

White House deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre arrives for a press briefing in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC on 26 May 2021. (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)

Karine Jean-Pierre has made history as the first openly gay woman and the second Black woman to conduct a formal press briefing at the White House.

She has previously addressed reporters alongside press secretary Jen Psaki, and even led an informal press “gaggle” briefing in April. But on Wednesday (26 May), Jean-Pierre made history as the first out lesbian and the second Black woman to lead a full, formal White House press briefing.

Jean-Pierre said it was a “real honour” to host the briefing and that she appreciated the “historic nature” of the moment.

“But I believe that, you know, behind – being behind this podium, being in this room, being in this building is not about one person,” Jean-Pierre said. “It’s about, you know, what we do on behalf of the American people.”

Karine Jean-Pierre then reiterated that president Joe Biden believes that “representation matters” and thanked him for “giving me this opportunity”. Jean-Pierre added: “And I think it’s another reason why I think we are all proud that this is the most diverse administration in history.”

It has been three decades since a Black woman led a White House press briefing. Judy Smith, a deputy press secretary under president George HW Bush, was the first to do so in 1991 and was even the inspiration for the Olivia Pope character in the TV show Scandal.

Following Karine Jean-Pierre’s briefing, Khanya Brown, a special assistant to the communications director, tweeted a photo of the two “trailblazers” together at the White House.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki also tweeted about the historic moment and called Jean-Pierre her “partner in truth”.

She wrote that Jean-Pierre is “making history in her own right”.

Psaki added that, to do Jean-Pierre “real justice”, means “also recognizing her talent, her brilliance and her wonderful spirit”.

The Wednesday press briefing might have been a test run for Jean-Pierre to eventually take on Psaki’s role. Axios reported that Psaki recently said she intends to leave the role “in a year”. She added she thinks it’s “going to be time for somebody else to have this job”.

Karine Jean-Pierre would be a natural successor for the role, but president Biden will have the ultimate decision over who gets the job.

Related topics: Karine Jean-Pierre

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