Washington — White House principal deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre will make history when she steps behind the podium in the James S. Brady Briefing Room on Wednesday, becoming just the second African-American woman to lead a White House press briefing.
Judy Smith, a deputy press secretary for President George H.W. Bush and the inspiration for Olivia Pope on “Scandal,” was the first Black woman to do so, when she held a briefing in 1991.
How to watch Karine Jean-Pierre lead today’s White House press briefing
- What: White House principal deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre holds a White House press briefing
- Date: Wednesday, May 26, 2021
- Time: 1 p.m. ET
- Location: The White House, Washington, D.C.
- Online stream: Live on CBSN in the player above and on your mobile or streaming device
Jean-Pierre, who is President Biden’s No. 2 press aide under press secretary Jen Psaki, has done five off-camera “gaggles” with press and smaller media availabilities with the traveling press on Air Force One, but she has not yet held an on-camera briefing at the White House briefing room.
“She has been through all the information gathering, all discussions they have before the briefing. She will be well-prepped on the information, and now she’s ready to do a briefing,” said Martha Joynt Kumar, an academic and author who has been monitoring White House briefings since 1975.
On Twitter, Psaki called Jean-Pierre her “partner in truth” and said her turn at the podium is “a big day in the press office and @WhiteHouse.”
“[Jean-Pierre] is doing her first full briefing from the podium today making history in her own right,” Psaki wrote. “But doing her real justice means also recognizing her talent, her brilliance and her wonderful spirit.”
This is not the first time Jean-Pierre has marked a historic milestone during her career. Prior to the Biden White House, Jean-Pierre served as chief of staff to Vice President Kamala Harris during the 2020 campaign. In a November 2020 profile, Out Magazine wrote that she was “the first Black person and first out lesbian to hold that position for a vice-presidential nominee.”
“As a Black gay immigrant who comes from a working-class family, I know that America hasn’t always worked for everyone,” Jean-Pierre, who was born on the French island territory of Martinique to Haitian immigrants and grew up in New York, told the magazine. “And I know that America still doesn’t work for everyone. The truth of the matter is we have a long way to go. But that’s what I’m working toward: mobilizing people around this shared vision of what an America that works for everyone could look like — and then making it happen.”
Jean-Pierre previously worked in the Obama White House and as a national spokesperson for the liberal group MoveOn.org. She has also been an NBC News political analyst.