Pentagon spokesman John Kirby has been brought over to the White House to help with communications after the disastrous debut this week of Karine Jean-Pierre taking over as press secretary from the departed Jen Psaki. The Biden administration made the announcement Friday night following leaks to the press. Kirby is a retired rear admiral who previously served as spokesman for the Obama State and Defense Departments. While Kirby is not taking over for Jean-Pierre (at least not now), the Biden administration statement made clear he will appear at the White House podium on occasion.
The announcement of Kirby being brought in to help Biden White House messaging comes on the heels of a similar move bringing Chairman Mao fan Anita Dunn back to the White House to help on communication strategy.
John Kirby, file screen image.
Kirby is a seasoned pro and skilled massager of the truth.
REPORTER: Can this administration tell the American people how many Americans it has evacuated from Afghanistan…?
KIRBY: We’re just going to leave it at several thousand right now…the number literally changes almost by the hour.
REPORTER: But so does everything else. pic.twitter.com/d5rQqoOKPC
— JM Rieger (@RiegerReport) August 24, 2021
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Jean-Pierre is not so seasoned and less skilled at massaging the truth.
DOOCY: “The President’s Twitter account posted the other day…How does raising taxes on corporations reduce inflation?”
KJP: “Um, so…Are you talking about a specific tweet?” pic.twitter.com/oHl0rGWEsY
— Townhall.com (@townhallcom) May 16, 2022
White House statement:
President Biden Announces John Kirby as NSC Coordinator for Strategic Communications
Today, President Biden announced that John Kirby, who is currently the Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, will be the new National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications at the White House. In this role, Kirby will coordinate interagency efforts to explain United States policy and will serve as a senior administration voice on related matters, including as appropriate at the White House podium. This position will be housed at the NSC and report to the National Security Advisor.
Statement from President Biden:
“John Kirby is uniquely qualified for this position, and I look forward to bringing his background, knowledge, and experience to the White House. From his work as the Assistant Secretary and Spokesperson at the State Department to his work at the Pentagon, most recently as Assistant to the Secretary for Public Affairs and Press Secretary, John understands the complexities of US foreign and defense policy, and he will ably represent the Administration on important national security issues.”
Statement from National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan:
“I am proud to welcome John to the team. I’m excited to see him get to work on behalf of the president and the entire national security enterprise.”
Statement from John Kirby:
“I am incredibly honored to be given this opportunity to continue serving my country and this Administration. I am very grateful to President Biden for his confidence in me and to Secretary Austin for his tremendous support and leadership these last 18 months. Secretary Austin has been more than just my boss; he’s been a mentor and a confidante, and he has helped make me a better communicator. He has trusted me to speak for the Department, and he has trusted me to speak for him. Those are precious responsibilities, the weight of which I felt and respected every day. I thank him for that. I also thank my entire team at OSD Public Affairs. When I messed up, they fixed it. When I did well, they made it so. I’ve never known a better team of professionals. I am excited to start this next assignment very soon, but I will surely miss each and every one of them.”
John Kirby, NSC Coordinator for Strategic Communications
John Kirby is currently the Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs. In this role, he advises Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Deputy Secretary of Defense spokesperson Kathleen Hicks and serves as the Department’s chief. Kirby previously served at the Department of State, as the Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Public Affairs from December 2015 to January 2017 and as the State Department’s spokesperson from May 2015 to January 2017. Prior to the State Department, Kirby served as the Pentagon Press Secretary under Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.
Kirby commissioned in the US Navy in September 1986 and served in uniform for more than 28 years, before retiring in 2015 at the rank of Rear Admiral. He is a 1985 graduate of the University of South Florida and holds a Master of Science degree in International Relations from Troy State University and a Master of Arts in National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College.
The White House announced Anita Dunn’s return two weeks ago on May 5, at the same time Jean-Pierre was appointed press secretary:
Anita Dunn, file screen image.
Anita Dunn, Senior Advisor and Assistant to the President
Anita Dunn is one of the nation’s top communications and political strategists, and is a close advisor to President Biden. She recently served as a Senior Advisor to President Biden, and is currently a partner and founding member of SKDK. She brings decades of experience advising Presidents and senior Democrats. She served as a chief strategist to President Obama as a senior campaign advisor and as the White House Communications Director. She has also worked in leading roles for Tom Daschle, Bill Bradley, and Evan Bayh.
As Senior Advisor to President Biden, Anita advised on the administration’s overall strategy and messaging, helping the President take steps and win victories that helped jumpstart the economy after the pandemic. Prior to that, she served as a senior advisor on the Biden-Harris campaign, advising on all aspects of the campaign. At SKDK, Anita has worked with progressive and issue advocacy campaigns, given strategic advice to elected officials, political candidates, CEOs, nonprofits and corporations.