Karine Jean-Pierre on Monday made her briefing room debut as White House press secretary, acknowledging the historic nature of her role and pledging to maintain a transparent dialogue with reporters as she takes over for Jen Psaki.
“I am obviously acutely aware that my presence at this podium represents a few firsts,” Jean-Pierre said at the top of Monday’s press briefing. “I am a Black, gay, immigrant woman, the first of all three of those to hold this position. I would not be here today if it were not for generations of barrier-breaking people before me. I stand on their shoulders.”
Jean-Pierre served as principal deputy press secretary since President Biden took office in January 2021. In that role, she occasionally filled in for Psaki in holding press briefings at the White House or on Air Force One. But Monday marked her first as press secretary.
Jean-Pierre vowed to “work every day to continue to ensure we are meeting the president’s high expectation of truth, honesty and transparency.”
“I also have tremendous respect for the work that you all do, which I know it’s not easy,” she said. “The press plays a vital role in our democracy. And we need a strong and independent press now more than ever.”
In her 16 months on the job, Psaki restored the daily press briefing after the tradition went by the wayside during the Trump administration, a tradition Jean-Pierre is expected to continue. A number of journalists congratulated Jean-Pierre on Monday before asking their questions.
Jean-Pierre’s first briefing was filled with questions about the aftermath of a mass shooting at a Buffalo, N.Y., grocery store, concerns about shortages of baby formula and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. She will also play a critical role as the face of the White House’s messaging in the months leading up to November’s midterm elections.