Second look? John Kirby moves to White House communications job

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

Is this an admission that Karine Jean-Pierre has not exactly risen to her new position as White House press secretary? Yes, if you ask me. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby is a consummate professional, regardless of your political party of choice. The fact that he is being moved into the White House now that Jen Psaki (Psaki bombs) is gone is pretty much an admission that the wrong choice was made for her replacement.

Kirby’s current official title is Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs. He’s clearly comfortable working in Democrat administrations and on lefty cable news networks, as he did at CNN from 2017 to 2021 after working as the spokesman for the State Department in the Obama administration. Now he’s a member of Team Biden. His professionalism, though, is likely from his military experience. He’s a retired rear admiral in the Navy. He doesn’t flaunt his political opinions in answers to reporters. He regularly appears on Fox News Channel, too, which also makes him different. I’m willing to give him a chance to get in there and do what he can to fix an obviously broken communications shop in the White House. It isn’t as bad as Kamala’s communication shop but it’s bad enough.

The effects of Joe Biden’s very poor choices in White House personnel have become clear as his term in office moves along. The White House press corps loved Psaki because she is one of them. Her smirk and snark were applauded – Psaki bombs! – when she answered questions from conservative-leaning media. Say what you will about her, and I have, she had experience in the job. She was the State Department’s spokesperson for John Kerry in the Obama administration. Her experience in communication at the top level of politics is much like Kirby’s. However, Karine Jean-Pierre is a diversity hire. She checked three boxes – female, gay, and an immigrant. How could a white male be chosen over her as Psaki’s successor? There’s no way in the Biden administration. Experience doesn’t matter, only the boxes that can be checked off.

That’s not an exaggeration. Look no further than the first sentences from Jean-Pierre when she held her first White House briefing. She thanked Biden for “the most diverse administration in history.”

“I am obviously acutely aware that my presence at this podium represents a few firsts. I am a black, gay, immigrant woman, the first of all three of those to hold this position,” Jean-Pierre said during her first briefing Monday. “I would not be here today if it were not for generations of barrier-breaking people before me. I stand on their shoulders.”

The new press secretary also thanked President Biden, saying his administration is the “not only the most diverse administration in history,” but one that is full of “barrier-breaking women and men” such as Vice President Kamala Harris, senior staff and Supreme Court nominees.

Ironically, she went on to say it’s not all about her. Here’s the thing – she’s educated and has political experience working in campaigns like John Edwards presidential campaign and Barack Obama’s but working in the White House as the press secretary is different. She’s suppose to relay the president’s message and opinions, not her own. She’s coming off as too partisan for the job. She also doesn’t seem particularly prepared to answer questions.

Maybe it’s just because she’s new on the job but she mostly reads answers from her briefing book and is stumped when pressed for details. She isn’t very quick on her feet. Yesterday, for example, Fox’s Peter Doocy asked about the “pause” on the Minister of Disinformation. She blamed the shutdown on disinformation on people who were ” mischaracterizing” it.

QUESTION: So if it’s pausing because you think the board was mischaracterized, then the disinformation board is being shut down because of disinformation. Is that what’s happening here?

KARINE JEAN-PIERRE: Look, I mean the board was put forth for a purpose, right? To make sure that we really did — really did address what was happening across the country when it came to disinformation.

QUESTION: [off-mic]

KARINE JEAN-PIERRE: It’s just going — it’s — it’s going to pause. There’s been a mischaracterizations from outside — outside forces. And so now what we’re going to do is going to — we’re going to pause it and we’re going to do an assessment. But the work does — the work doesn’t stop. We’re still going to continue the work.

Critics of both the Department of Disinformation and it’s leader properly called it an authoritarian move. It’s straight out of Orwell’s “1984”. Or, maybe Nazi Germany. The point is that it is not at all something an American administration should be putting in place as Biden did through DHS. In a hyper-partisan administration like Biden’s we all know how it would go. Only one side of the aisle would be cited as providing fodder for the Minister of Truth. It reminds me of the Obama days when he wiretapped journalists.

Jean-Pierre has a troubling history on social media. She’s tweeted about how racist she thinks Fox News Channel is and she is now responsible for answering questions from reporters covering the White House for the cable news outlet. Her history shows she is a partisan activist, not an impartial observer. The contrast in style between Jean-Pierre and Kirby is stark. She is not off to a good stark and the addition of Kirby in the White House shows the administration knows it made the wrong choice. They should have picked Kirby in the first place. This White House is dealing with crisis after crisis and needs a calm and professional spokesperson who knows the issues and can articulate responses to questions.

Kirby said he recently toured the White House and that he had never been there before that tour. With all the national security problems facing this incompetent administration, from the Biden border crisis to Putin’s war in Ukraine, there are many issues in which Ms. Jean-Pierre will find herself over her head. She can’t just blame Republicans for everything and toss out “MAGA Republicans” as she is fond of doing. The White House can use a co-press secretary to take up the slack.