As a matter of principle, I don’t trust anyone who can’t look me in the eyes.
So, for someone whose job it is to talk to me and explain the direction of the country but who can’t manage to look directly at a camera or at any of the reporters gathered in the White House press briefing room — well, that someone should be fired.
And yes, I’m talking about Karine Jean-Pierre — the affirmative action hire (she’s both Black and a lesbian, a first!) — who is now White House press secretary.
Ms. Jean-Pierre leans on her briefing book so heavily, most of the time she’s just reading prewritten talking points instead of engaging with her audience. It’s unclear if Ms. Jean-Pierre is simply unprepared to answer questions, lacks any knowledge of the topics at hand or is deliberately trying to be as opaque as possible in regard to the White House’s agenda.
It is Ms. Jean-Pierre’s job to stay abreast of the news cycle, to anticipate what questions may be thrown her way, and to answer them clearly and definitively as to how the administration is handling said question.
But since taking the top job in May, Ms. Jean-Pierre has responded to reporters with “I don’t have anything,” at least 100 times in the briefing room. When asked tougher questions regarding, say, Hunter Biden’s finances — or really anything the administration doesn’t want to comment on, her go-to response is that she “hasn’t read the report” and therefore has no idea what the reporter is referring to.
This week, when confronted by a reporter who accurately described how most economists agree the so-called “Inflation Reduction Act” will bring down inflation in the long-term but not in the short-term, Ms. Jean-Pierre simply responded, “I, you know, I look, that is something that we disagree with.”
Facts meet — well, not even counter facts, but more of just a general feeling of disagreement.
In the same briefing, when asked if the president was confident that companies wouldn’t pass on the higher taxes in the bill to the consumer, Ms. Jean-Pierre said: “I cannot speak to that.”
When news broke the administration would resume construction of the wall on parts of the Arizona-Mexico border — a wall Ms. Jean-Pierre repeatedly called “bigoted” and “racist” during the Trump administration, her answer was downright nonsensical.
“We are not finishing a wall, we are cleaning up the mess that the prior administration made,” she said. “We are trying to save lives. This is what the prior administration left behind that we are now cleaning up.”
By “cleaning up,” does she mean building the wall? A wall that she in the same breath just said the administration wasn’t “finishing?” But maybe they are, because in doing so, it would somehow “save lives?”
Now, I expect jargon, gaslighting and spins from every White House press room podium — every administration does it. But is it too much to ask that the spins be comprehensible?
In what can only be a move to limit her overall exposure, as Fox News noted this week, Ms. Jean-Pierre rarely appears at the podium alone these days.
“Since the start of her tenure May 16 through the end of last week, Jean-Pierre has conducted 38 total press briefings and gaggles with reporters. Of those times she’s fielded questions, 25 of them, or about 66%, came with at least a second person joining her at the microphone,” Fox News reported.
By comparison, Ms. Jean-Pierre’s predecessor, Jen Psaki, had a co-briefer only 26% of the time, the report detailed.
I was no fan of Ms. Psaki, whom I found to be both arrogant and condescending. But she always came to the podium prepared with a solid grasp of the news of the day and the White House’s talking points.
At times, Ms. Jean-Pierre can’t even find those talking points in her briefing book.
When asked for an update on the national baby formula shortage in June, she floundered through her binder for what seemed to be several minutes, filling the time by commenting, “Let me see if I have anything new for you on that.”
When she finally got to the page she was looking for (or perhaps not), she looked up and said: “I don’t have anything new. I know we made some announcements last week. I just don’t have them in front of me.”
Ms. Jean-Pierre has got to go.
• Kelly Sadler is the commentary editor for The Washington Times.