Today News Africa White House reporter Simon Ateba asked National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Comms John Kirby if he’s the “second press secretary” during Friday’s briefing.
In May, then-Pentagon spokesman John Kirby was brought over to the White House to help with communications after the disastrous debut of Karine Jean-Pierre taking over as press secretary from the departed Jen Psaki.
While Kirby is not taking over for Jean-Pierre (at least not now), the Biden administration’s previous statement made clear he will appear at the White House podium on occasion.
Simon Ateba asked John Kirby to “explain his job” and suggested he’s at the White House to “undermine” the first black female spokesperson.
“There seems to be some confusion about what your role is, what type of questions we should ask you. Sometimes you act like the second press secretary,” Ateba said. “Can you explain exactly what, what, what your job is at the White House and if you’re the second press secretary, what type of questions we should ask you…is it on national security?”
Ateba continued, “And the reason I’m asking you is because almost everywhere I go, I have black people telling me that the reason you’re at the White House is to undermine the first female black secretary so can you please clarify that and explain…”
Kirby was visibly annoyed and scolded the reporter after answering a question on Ukraine.
“On your other question, if anyone gets any kind of idea in their head that I’m taking away from Karine or her work, that’s really regrettable. And I’m very sorry that that’s any impression that anybody would have,” Kirby said.
“I am simply working at the National Security Council, on national security communications. And with her good graces I’m able to come up here every now and then to talk to you about simply national security issues. That’s my portfolio. That’s where I’m limited. That’s where I’ll stay. And I do it at her invitation and with her approval to come up here so that’s the focus. I’m happy to answer national security questions and that’s about it,” Kirby added.
Reporter asks John Kirby about his role at the White House: “Sometimes you act like a second press secretary…almost everywhere I go, I have Black people telling me that the the reason you’re at the White House is to undermine the first female Black press secretary?” pic.twitter.com/7ewUSkWbdr
— CSPAN (@cspan) September 16, 2022
Take note of the facial expressions of other reporters while Simon Ateba asked John Kirby if he’s at the White House to undermine Karine Jean-Pierre.
Facial expressions of other reporters in the White House press briefing as reporter asks John Kirby if the reason he’s at the White House “is to undermine the first female Black press secretary?” pic.twitter.com/xof4KKafgY
— Jeremy Art (@cspanJeremy) September 16, 2022