Deputy press secretary Olivia Dalton makes surprise debut in press briefing in place of absent Karine Jean-Pierre

June 28, 2023
Ben Marquis

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was engaged in a rather contentious dialogue with reporters last week with regard to serious and legitimate questions about President Joe Biden's son Hunter that she steadfastly refused to answer.

Just days later, in an unexpected development, Jean-Pierre was not in her usual position behind the briefing room podium on Tuesday, as that spot was instead filled by her understudy, principal White House deputy press secretary Olivia Dalton, according to the Washington Examiner.

This was Dalton's first time at the helm of a full-fledged White House press briefing, though the outlet noted that she has previously taken questions from reporters on several occasions during the shorter and more informal press gaggles while on board Air Force One.

White House press briefing room debuts

According to a tweet from NBC News' senior White House correspondent Kelly O'Donnell, joining deputy press secretary Dalton in making a debut in the White House briefing room on Tuesday was Lael Brainard, the director of the White House National Economic Council.

The Examiner noted that Brainard just assumed that position in February, while Dalton first joined the White House communications team last year after previously serving briefly as the communications director for President Biden's ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield.

However, despite it being the first day in the briefing room for both Dalton and Brainard, neither was spared from having to take tough questions from the White House press pool.

Not the friendliest of welcomes

Per the transcript for Tuesday's press briefing, Brainard was there to discuss the unveiling of President Biden's economic plans, dubbed "Bidenomics," though she only took a few questions from reporters following an initial statement before exiting the room and leaving Dalton by herself.

Dalton herself received very little slack from the gathered journalists, as she was hammered with numerous questions about Biden's economic plans, his plan to cancel student loan debt, China, the Russia-Ukraine conflict, and, of course, the developing criminal scandals surrounding Hunter Biden.

And, much like her predecessor Jean-Pierre, Dalton responded to many of those questions with non-answers and prepared talking points, if she gave any reply at all, and didn't just ignore questions she didn't like and call on other reporters.

Jean-Pierre vs. reporters over Hunter Biden scandals

Though it is unclear, and probably unlikely, that Jean-Pierre has been seriously sidelined by the administration from her role as press secretary, the Examiner noted that Dalton would seemingly be a prime candidate to be considered as Jean-Pierre's full-time replacement -- should replacement become necessary.

As noted, during Friday's press briefing, there was a highly contentious moment when several reporters from mainstream outlets, interestingly enough, hammered Jean-Pierre repeatedly with a series of questions focused on Hunter Biden in relation to his plea deal to criminal charges, allegations of a "shakedown" message sent to a Chinese business associate, and his relationship with his father in terms of his dubious foreign business dealings.

An increasingly frustrated Jean-Pierre had attempted to dodge virtually all of those questions, much to the consternation of the reporters, and it has become clear that a growing portion of the press pool has become disenchanted with her and her apparent steadfast refusal to provide straight answers to legitimate queries.

Jean-Pierre skipped scheduled appearance on "The View"

Meanwhile, in what could be potentially related news, Fox News reported Wednesday that Jean-Pierre had canceled at the last moment a much-hyped appearance on ABC's "The View," ostensibly in support of the ongoing Hollywood writers strike -- though that strike started weeks ago and the scheduled appearance was only announced in recent days.

To be sure, while "The View" would certainly be a friendly atmosphere for the press secretary, it was exceedingly possible that she would be asked questions about Hunter Biden that she'd rather not answer, thus it has been theorized that Jean-Pierre skipped the appearance not because of the writers strike but in order to avoid more potential controversy and scandal.

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