Karine Jean-Pierre, White House principal deputy press secretary, took the podium in the James S. Brady Briefing Room for the first time Wednesday, becoming the first Black woman to do so.
Jean-Pierre, 43, follows Judy Smith, who served as deputy press secretary to President George H.W. Bush in 1991. Smith was the inspiration for the Olivia Pope character on the hit TV show “Scandal.”
“I appreciate the historic nature,” she said when prompted by a reporter. “I really do, but I believe that being behind this podium, being in this room, being in this building is not about one person. It’s about what we do on behalf of the American people.”
With Wednesday’s appearance, Jean-Pierre — the principal deputy press secretary —became just the second Black woman to ever take the podium and the first since Judy Smith did so in 1991 under former president George H.W. Bush. She’s also the first openly gay spokeswoman to field questions in the briefing room.
“The president believes representation matters,” Jean-Pierre said. “This is not about me, this is not about any of us.”
It’s far from the first time that Jean-Pierre has fielded volleys from the White House press corps, as she has done off-camera briefings aboard Air Force One on several occasions and frequently sits in the briefing room while Psaki stands at the podium.
But Wednesday’s briefing was also widely viewed as an audition to take over for White House press secretary Jen Psaki when she eventually steps down. Psaki said on a recent podcast with Democratic operative David Axelrod that someone else will likely succeed her at some point next year,