How Jen Psaki's White House Press Secretary Replacement Is Making History

On May 5, The White House announced that Jen Psaki, President Biden's current press secretary, is stepping down from the role. This comes to no surprise to many, as reports surfaced in April that she planned to leave the White House some time in the spring (via NPR). Psaki has previously worked for the Obama administration and is known for her resilient demeanor. According to a 2021 interview with Vogue, she stated that she intended to work as press secretary for only one year. Psaki is the mother of two young children, and The Cut reports that she would like to spend more time with them as they get older.

Axios writes that she is planning to work as a TV host for MSNBC on Peacock, a streaming platform. If so, she is following in the footsteps of Symone Sanders, a former adviser and spokesperson for Vice President Kamala Harris. Sanders departed the White House earlier this year and is set to host her own show on MSNBC (per Deadline). In light of the exit, Psaki's replacement was also revealed. Forbes states that 44-year-old Karine Jean-Pierre is set to become the new White House press secretary on May 13. Per NPR, she has been described by Psaki as her "partner in truth."

Karine Jean-Pierre has an impressive resume

According to The Guardian, Jean-Pierre is currently Psaki's principal deputy press secretary. NPR reports that Jean-Pierre has been in this role since the beginning of Biden's administration. However, Jean-Pierre has had a long and bountiful career in politics prior to this. The Columbia graduate previously worked for MoveOn, an organization known for its socially progressive values. Per USA Today, she has also been a political analyst for both NBC and MSNBC. In 2008 and 2012, Jean-Pierre was a member of former President Obama's campaign team (via Forbes). She was also Kamala Harris' chief of staff during her vice presidential campaign.

Per a press release from The White House, Jean-Pierre was formerly a campaign manager for Martin O'Malley, as well as the ACLU's Reproductive Freedom Initiative. Additionally, she was the Director of Legislative and Budget Affairs for two New York City Council members. Simply put, Jean-Pierre is beyond qualified for her new role. President Biden agreed with this sentiment as he stated, "Karine not only brings the experience, talent and integrity needed for this difficult job, but she will continue to lead the way in communicating about the work of the Biden-Harris Administration on behalf of the American people."

Karine Jean-Pierre will become the first Black White House press secretary

According to CNN, Jean-Pierre's appointment as Psaki's replacement is monumental for a number of reasons. CNBC reports that in the job's 93-history, each and every person who has held the position has been white. Now, Jean-Pierre is set to become the first Black and openly LGBTQ person as the White House Press secretary. At a press briefing, she herself noted what this meant. Jean-Pierre said, "I understand how important it is for so many people out there, so many different communities, that I stand on their shoulders and I have been throughout my career" (via NPR). Jean-Pierre also went on to praise Psaki for her support and guidance.

As the new White House Press secretary, her role is to act as a representative and spokesperson for President Biden (via Dummies). Although this may sound relatively simple, the job, as NPR explains, is notoriously difficult. Psaki, for example, often faced antagonistic questions and reporters. Nonetheless, she managed to maintain her composure.

Psaki believes that Jean-Pierre will be able to do the same while leaving her own mark on history. Per CNN, she explained that "representation matters and she is going to, she will give a voice to so many and allow and show so many what is truly possible when you work hard, and dream big and that matters, and ... we should celebrate that."

Karine Jean-Pierre is familiar with her new job

CNBC notes that as Psaki's principal deputy press secretary, Jean-Pierre is no stranger to the White House briefing room. Per CNN, she regularly joined Psaki during briefings. Moreover, Jean-Pierre has also filled in for Psaki a number of times (via Forbes). CBS News writes that Jean-Pierre has given briefs and answered questions from reporters on Air Force One. Most famously, The Hill reports, she became the first gay woman and second Black woman (the first being Judy Smith in 1991) to give a White House briefing, back in May 2021. Per NPR, Psaki was unable to give the brief because of a COVID diagnosis.

Although Jean-Pierre knew that she was making history, she explained that it was not her priority. As she put it, "This is not about me. This is not about any of us. And anytime I'm behind here ... we are going to be truthful, we're going to be transparent, and that's the way I believe the president would want us to communicate to the American people" (per The Hill). NPR explains that despite some previous blunders she has made while giving briefs on Air Force One, Jean-Pierre is generally admired by reporters. Nonetheless, she noted on Twitter that she has "big shoes to fill."

Karine Jean-Pierre wrote a poignant autobiography

In addition to her political career, Jean-Pierre is also an author (via the Carnegie Corporation of New York). Born in Martinique to Haitian immigrants, she delves into her life story in "Moving Forward: A Story of Hope, Hard Work, and the Promise of America." According to PBS, Jean-Pierre grew up in New York. The family moved to the United States when she was 5 years old and her father, who was previously an engineer, worked as a taxi driver to make ends meet. In her 2019 autobiography, Jean-Pierre explains that her experiences as being the child of immigrants defined her and the expectations that were placed on her.

Moreover, Fox 13 Memphis reports, she also opens up about coming to terms with her sexuality and her struggles with mental health. She told PBS, "because of the pressures of me growing up, and just feeling like an outsider all through my growing up, my young — young days, there was a time where I attempted to take my life." Jean-Pierre also reportedly endured sexual abuse as a child and explained that it was difficult to relive the moments while writing the book (per Shondaland). Despite this, the Queens native prevailed and eventually attended and taught at Columbia University, before making it to the White House.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ at​ 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​. If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

There are concerns regarding her role as President Biden's new press secretary

In a 2019 interview with Shondaland, Jean-Pierre discussed her relationship with her partner Suzanne Malveaux (above). The couple share a young daughter, Soleil, and the New York Post reports that Jean-Pierre dedicated her autobiography to both Malveaux and their daughter. Who is Malveaux? Sportskeeda writes that she is a journalist who works for CNN. Moreover, she was previously a White house correspondent. This has resulted in some controversy, as many believe this could cloud Jean-Pierre's impartiality.

That being said, it's been reported that Malveaux will not be covering politics or the White House while Jean-Pierre is press secretary (via the New York Post). Per the Daily Mail, many of these concerns are due to previous issues CNN has had. NPR states CNN recently fired long-time correspondent Chris Cuomo due to his involvement in the sex scandal entangling his brother, Andrew. Likewise, CNN's president, Jeff Zucker, resigned in February over his involvement with a co-worker. These concerns, however, have not fazed Jean-Pierre, as she tweeted that is she looking "forward to serving this Administration and the American people."