There may be trouble in paradise among President Joe Biden’s top spinmeisters with tensions reportedly simmering between White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and NSC Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby.
With the important matter of the conflict in Gaza being a daily topic, the former Navy admiral has frequently been tasked with manning the podium to field the tough questions on the war between Israel and Hamas which he has done since October with his polished delivery and command of the issues putting Biden’s prized diversity hire to shame.
According to a report from Axios, the historic first black lesbian immigrant to hold the prominent position isn’t happy, unnamed White House sources dishing to the outlet that “behind the scenes their relationship is fraught with tension.”
— Simon Ateba (@simonateba) January 5, 2024
“Kirby — a Biden favorite who has become the public face of the administration’s response to the Israel-Hamas war — has told people he’d like to be White House press secretary one day,” the outlet reported, adding, “Jean-Pierre has told people she plans to stay in the job through the election and beyond if Biden wants her — and that he has asked her not to leave.”
Axios quotes officials who downplay the idea that there’s friction between the two but adds that “several other White House sources say Jean-Pierre was wary of Kirby from the beginning.”
Today News Africa reporter Simon Ateba stirred the pot.
Refreshed and ready to rumble after a holiday vacation in sunny Miami Beach, Jean-Pierre’s pressroom nemesis took to X to boast that the Axios story was sweet vindication and to share his own story about the elfin former MoveOn.org activist.
“BREAKING – SHOCKING – I WAS RIGHT – KJP, KIRBY AT WAR: I have been vindicated. @PressSec Karine Jean-Pierre will now be ashamed of herself for fighting me as John Kirby is now trying to push her aside. This is what happens when you go after the wrong person. Axios is reporting that Kirby and Jean-Pierre are at war, sharing the podium, laughing, and hating each other behind the scenes,” Ateba wrote in his post.
BREAKING – SHOCKING – I WAS RIGHT – KJP, KIRBY AT WAR: I have been vindicated. @PressSec Karine Jean-Pierre will now be ashamed of herself for fighting me as John Kirby is now trying to push her aside. This is what happens when you go after the wrong person. Axios is reporting… pic.twitter.com/xw3dXMcPh3
— Simon Ateba (@simonateba) January 5, 2024
“Many of you may not recall that KJP last called on me after I asked her who was the press secretary herself or Kirby? I was asking the question everyone in the @WhiteHouse briefing room was asking but did not dare to voice it,” the intrepid reporter wrote, seeming to have been referring to a September incident when he asked Kirby, “Can you explain exactly what your job is at the White House and if you’re the second press secretary, what type of question we should ask you … is it on national security?”
— Simon Ateba (@simonateba) January 6, 2024
“KJP met me at a restaurant and told me I put her in trouble for asking the question and asked me to go and apologize to Kirby, an impossible thing that I vehemently rejected since I was just doing my job and do not apologize to liars,” Ateba continued. “Now, after fighting me and changing the White House rules to take away my hard pass, she’s fighting behind the scenes to get rid of Kirby who is also trying to take her job.”
“Never fight a good man who is trying to do his job, just asking questions that others do not dare asking because karma is a bitch. May God help us,” Ateba concluded.
Predictably, some think that it’s all about race.
“Jean-Pierre’s defenders say the arrangement undermined her from the beginning and made a difficult job harder,” Axios reported. “Some black Democrats in the administration and on Capitol Hill say the situation was insulting because it suggested that the first black press secretary to represent the president needed supervision.”
Some might be inclined to suggest that Kirby’s professional demeanor just puts Jean-Pierre to shame and underscores suspicions that she only got the gig because she checked off certain identity boxes, that’s just the black-and-white truth.
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