However, shortly after the briefing ended, someone set her straight and she tweeted the response she should have instinctively given in when the question was asked: “The families of those who were taken hostage lived in agony. Demolishing photos of their loved ones. . . is wrong and hurtful.
It has been clear for some time that Jean-Pierre is not very good at his job. She is not agile, her answers are not convincing and she is not considered a confidante of the president. In an unflattering profile in March, the Washington Post cited a veteran reporter’s assessment: “She doesn’t appear to be in the room where this is happening.” »
So why do journalists continue to attend his press briefings?
Why do they participate any of them White House spokesperson briefings?
In truth, even if Jean-Pierre was as calm, articulate and agile in answering journalists’ questions as his predecessor, Jen Psakior like her predecessor, Kayleigh McEnany, meetings with the White House press would remain, with rare exceptions, devoid of real news. The crowded question-and-answer sessions in the James S. Brady Press Conference Room almost never generate important information, frank confessions, or valuable explanations of the president’s performance. Journalists crave the chance to be on television, and the press secretary uses the “briefing” to repeat the administration’s talking points. The rallies are held for show and not to convey important information. Journalists ask their sometimes pointed questions, fully aware that they will be answered with doublespeak, diversions and multiple reiterations of the party line.
This is not to denigrate legitimate press briefings, such as those given by senior officials during a natural disaster or military operation. And when the president himself answers questions, his answers are more or less by definition newsworthy. But when journalists gather for the daily White House briefing, it’s not to report. This is about pushing back against the press secretary, who answers their questions with the sole aim of defending the president and without ever, under any circumstances, recognizing that he could be wrong.
Remember the White House event in which President Biden searched the public for Jackie Walorski, a congresswoman from Indiana. “Jackie, are you there?” Where is Jackie? She shouldn’t be here,” Biden said – clearly forgetting that Walorski had been killed in a car crash a month earlier. Asked about the incident at a later press conference, Jean-Pierre insisted that Biden had not misspoke or been confused. Rather than admit that he had a special moment, she argued that Walorski was “a priority” for the president and that was why he called her. As ridiculous as it sounds, she repeated this explanation 17 times. Nobody was convinced. Everyone knew she was trying to put her boss in the best light.
What is gained from such charades?
The day after Donald Trump’s inauguration, Sean Spicer began his mandate as press secretary by making the absurd statement that the new president had taken the oath of office in front of “the largest audience ever seen at an inauguration, period.” In reality, Barack Obama’s inauguration took place in the presence of a much larger crowdbut Spicer was ordered to lie to the press, That’s what he did. After leaving his job at the White House, Spicer expressed his ‘regrets’ for the lies he told on behalf of Trump. But in one way or another, every White House spokesperson seems to adopt Winston Churchill’s war maxim that “the truth is so precious that it should always be accompanied by a bodyguard of lies “.
Or at least a stone wall.
Mike McCurry, who was President Bill Clinton’s press secretary during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, admitted (again after leaving the White House) that his strategy during press briefings was to be relentlessly uninformative. In an interview with ABC News, he described how he showed up at daily press briefings with “this kind of flimsy little statement that I wasn’t going to budge from and that’s what I held up as my only line of defense for most of these briefings “. On another occasion he said his approach to work was that of “tell the truth slowly.”
A witness in court must swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. White House press secretaries who want to keep their jobs cannot do such a thing. If the president falsely claims something is true, his spokesperson is supposed to back him up. During their tenure as Trump’s press secretary, McEnany And Sarah Huckabee Sanders have regularly lent their mark to the president’s distortions. During the 2013 debate over the Affordable Health Act, Obama repeatedly asserted that anyone who liked their health insurance plan could keep it. PolitiFact would qualify that the “Lie of the year” – but it was Obama’s story, so his spokesperson Jay Carney blindly stuck to it.
As political creatures, presidents may want spokespeople who will defend their positions at all costs. But the White House press secretary is a government position, and daily press briefings are government-funded debates held on government premises. This wouldn’t be a problem if they reliably generated useful information, clarified public policy, or provided meaningful answers to journalists’ questions. But daily press briefings do not illuminate the truth, they obscure it. It’s not even good entertainment. They are vehicles for propaganda and slogans, and their true place is in a campaign headquarters, not the White House.