White House press secretaries have long been accused of engaging in spin, obfuscation, or even spouting outright lies in an effort to protect the president — but Karine Jean-Pierre frequently seems unable to even mount a defense for President Joe Biden.
Amid the ongoing controversy surrounding classified documents found throughout Biden’s Delaware home and in his former office in D.C., Jean-Pierre has had the unenviable task of fielding reporters’ questions. Instead of actually providing an answer, however, she has increasingly directed queries to the White House Counsel’s Office.
While it might be reasonable for the president’s lawyers to provide specific details regarding the ongoing investigation, Jean-Pierre has evaded seemingly innocuous questions using this tactic. She brushed off multiple questions in a row from Fox News Channel’s Peter Doocy on Tuesday.
Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre REFUSES to answer a single one of Peter Doocy’s questions and instead refers him to the White House Counsel’s office. pic.twitter.com/2TvOkbL1HO
— Benny Johnson (@bennyjohnson) January 24, 2023
Another White House correspondent recently confronted her on the practice.
“Karine, since you don’t have any answer on the classified documents, you don’t seem a good fit for this job,” said Today News Africa’s Simon Ateba. “We do not seem to have any answer from you.”
It is noteworthy that he accused her of being unfit to her face, but Ateba is hardly the only news figure who has questioned her qualifications.
In a recent segment on Fox News, contributor Joe Concha determined that Jean-Pierre “has shown that she is not qualified for this job at this level,” citing her repetition of certain phrases as evidence that “she has no ability to think extemporaneously.”
Specifically, he mentioned that she repeated that “the president takes these documents very seriously” in some variation 17 times during one news conference.
“She talks about how transparent the administration has been with the public while not answering questions,” Concha concluded.
Republican Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who served as White House press secretary under former President Donald Trump, understands the pressures of the job and acknowledged this week that the situation surrounding Biden’s classified documents scandal makes things “infinitely harder” for Jean-Pierre.
Nevertheless, Sanders called on “reporters other than Peter Doocy” to hold Jean-Pierre’s “feet to the fire,” adding: “I’ve actually been happy about the way that the White House press corps has finally started to push for real answers from this White House. Now, unfortunately, they haven’t gotten any, but they are at least starting to aggressively ask questions.”