An African reporter questioned whether President Joe Biden considers his Black female press secretary inadequate, so she has a White backup.
Today News Africa’s White House reporter Simon Ateba asked National Security Council spokesman John Kirby his role during press conferences.
“Can you explain exactly what your job is at the White House?” Ateba asked Kirby. “And if you’re a second press secretary, what type of questions should we ask you?”
“And the reason I’m asking is because almost everywhere I go, I have Black people telling me that the reason you’re at the White House is to undermine the first female Black Secretary,” the African reporter informed the White NSC spokesman.
Kirby spoke at length about Ukraine, which had been the first part of Ateba’s question. Then, he responded to Ateba inferring the Biden administration is racist by sending an old White man to back up its young Black female press secretary.
“Now, look, on your other question, if anyone gets any kind of idea in their head that I’m taking away from Karine or her work, that’s really regrettable,” Kirby began. “And — and I’m very sorry that that’s any impression that anybody would have.”
The former Defense Department spokesman declared he was simply addressing national security communications in his role at the NSC.
“And with her good graces, I’m able to come up here every now and then to talk to you about simply national security issues,” added Kirby. “That’s my portfolio. That’s where I’m limited. That’s where I’ll stay. And I do it at her invitation and with her approval to come up here.”
“I’m happy to answer national security questions and that’s about it,” the NSC spokesman concluded.
During an August 4 press briefing, Kirby had scolded Ateba for shouting to be heard over other reporters. He told the back row reporter to show more respect, according to a Mediaite report.
“Simon. Simon. Simon. Simon, sir, I’m going to call on this man,” Kirby said during the August briefing. “Now sir, listen now, I’ve been polite to you, but I expect a little bit of respect in return.”
“You know where we are?” asked Kirby. “This is the White House press briefing room, and you need to be more respectful.”
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