White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre’s relationship with National Security Council spokesman John Kirby is “fraught with tension,” according to a new report.
In an article headlined, “The White House’s tense podium battle,” sources told Axios that Kirby is a “Biden favorite” who often speaks to foreign policy, whereas Jean-Pierre is more focused on domestic issues.
“Jean-Pierre and Kirby have split the podium in the White House pressroom more frequently since the Israel-Hamas war began in October — aggravating tensions that began in the spring of 2022, when Jen Psaki departed as press secretary, current and former Biden officials said,” according to the report.
While Jean-Pierre and Kirby have both shared “frustration” over appearing together, they “both keep appearing at the podium together for one reason: Biden likes it.”
Kirby speaks often with President Joe Biden, briefing him “personally” at his request and sometimes traveling with the president on Air Force One.
Kirby has also expressed to allies that he would “like to be White House press secretary one day,” per Axios, although another official told the outlet that wasn’t the case. The report noted Jean-Pierre was upset when she was first offered the job in 2022 because it appeared she’d have to do it in tandem with Kirby, and some Black Democrats have felt she’s being undermined and treated differently because of her race.
“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,” the report states.
The numbers show just how often Jean-Pierre has to share the podium with Kirby.
“In the more than 30 press briefings and gaggles since Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7, Jean-Pierre has briefed reporters solo just once — during a gaggle on Air Force One,” according to the report. “Kirby has accompanied her at every other briefing she has conducted except for three, when she was joined by National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan. (Sullivan joined once because Kirby was ill, according to two people familiar with the matter.)”
Another portion of the report said Jean-Pierre decides which reporters Kirby calls on even when he’s doing the briefing, which some aides see as a “sign of Jean-Pierre being insecure,” the report states.
A White House official who works closely with both Kirby and Jean-Pierre told Fox News Digital that they have a good working relationship.
“As someone who spends more time ‘behind closed doors’ with both of them than just about any person, I don’t recognize this description of their relationship at all,” the official said. “The truth is the opposite – they talk all the time and have a collegial and collaborative rapport.”
Fox News’ Lindsay Kornick contributed to this report.