Who is Karine Jean-Pierre? Israel critic can become first Black, homosexual woman to become WH press secretary
If Joe Biden picks Jean-Pierre, it could rattle the pro-Israel community which has seen strong support from the Donald Trump administration
All eyes are glued to the team that President-elect Joe Biden picks to run his administration over the next four years. He has already chosen some accomplished names — those that have served earlier in the Barack Obama administration. And now, people are curious to know who the former vice president takes on board as the White House press secretary.
Biden is reportedly close to selecting Karine Jean-Pierre for the post. The 43-year-old has served as an adviser to both Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris during their presidential campaigns (Harris quit the presidential race in December last year) and is set to become the latter’s chief of staff. NBC News’s Geoff Bennett said in a tweet on November 18 that Jean-Pierre has also emerged as a top candidate for the post of the White House press secretary. If appointed, Jean-Pierre will succeed incumbent Kayleigh McEnany, who is the fourth press secretary in the Trump era (since April 2020) and the 33rd post-holder overall.
NEWS: Karine Jean-Pierre has emerged as a top candidate for Biden's WH press secretary, multiple sources tell @mikememoli, @kwelkernbc and me.— Geoff Bennett (@GeoffRBennett) November 18, 2020
She would be the first Black woman in that role.
Symone Sanders has also been discussed and has recently focused on Harris’ transition.
In another tweet, Bennett said that no final decision had been taken. In another post, he also said that the name of Kate Bedingfield, one of Biden's campaign advisers, is also doing the rounds
No final decisions have been made, officials stress, as the emerging West Wing leadership also considers how to structure the communications office in a rapidly-changing media environment.— Geoff Bennett (@GeoffRBennett) November 18, 2020
Kate Bedingfield, communications director for the campaign, is seen as the likeliest choice to serve in the same post in the White House, as she also did in the final year of Biden's vice presidency. Bedingfield had also been considering the press secretary role.— Geoff Bennett (@GeoffRBennett) November 18, 2020
Why Jean-Pierre's possible candidacy is turning heads
If Jean-Pierre becomes the secretary, observers will be interested to see the proceedings for two reasons. First, she is known to be a vocal critic of Israel. She has worked as a senior adviser and national spokesperson (April 2016-Aug 2020) for MoveOn.org, a far-Left anti-Israel group that favors boycotting the Jewish state. She has accused Israel in the past of committing “war crimes” and during the Democratic primary ahead of this year’s election, hailed those Democrats who stayed away from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s annual conference in Washington DC. She praised those blue lawmakers for “boldly choosing to prioritize diplomacy and human rights over the power of a lobbying organization”.
If Biden settles for Jean-Pierre, it could rattle the pro-Israel community which has witnessed strong support from the outgoing Donald Trump administration all these years. Biden could be signaling a turnaround in Washington’s Israel policy, appeasing the party’s progressive wing as well that includes the likes of representatives Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib.
Also, if Jean-Pierre becomes the press secretary, she will be the first homosexual and Black woman to bag the top post. Symone Sanders, the other woman is also in the fray to become the press secretary, is also a Black. The Biden campaign has been stressing throughout that it would pick an administration that would reflect America’s diversity. Harris’ pick as the vice-presidential candidate was an action backing that pledge and now, a number of Democrats and activists are hoping that the post of the press secretary also goes to an individual of color.
Born in Martinique, France, to Haitian immigrant parents, Jean-Pierre is a self-styled progressive who has often spoken out in favor of human rights. She has worked for bodies like the Center for Community and Corporate Ethics and took on giants like Walmart to change policies. Raised in Queens, New York, Jean-Pierre got her MPA from the School of International Public Affairs, Columbia University, in 2003. Se joined the Columbia University faculty in 2014 to become a lecturer in international and public affairs.