KJP Embarrasses Herself Battling Reporters Over Biden’s Latest Sign of Cognitive Incapacity

September 28th, 2022 7:39 PM

In what might be her worst performance as White House press secretary (in what’s already been dominated by ineptitude), Karine Jean-Pierre faced searing heat Wednesday from across the ideological spectrum of the press corps after President Joe Biden called out to Congresswoman Jackie Walorski (R-IN) at a global hunger event despite the fact that Walorski died nearly two months ago.

ABC’s Cecilia Vega broke through as the second reporter called on, wondering “what happened at the hunger event” as Biden “seemed to indicate she might be in the room.” In response, Jean-Pierre claimed Biden was simply “acknowledging her incredible work” on food insecurity and, because her family will meet him on Friday, “she was on his mind” and “top of mind.”



Vega wasn’t moved: “He said, ‘Jackie, are you here? Where is Jackie? She must not be here.’”

Jean-Pierre doubled down that “she was on top of mind,” so it fell to CNN’s Phil Mattingly a few minutes later, who admitted he was “trying to get my head around” her excuse.

“Why was he looking for her? I’m not trying to be snarky here,” he added. Unfortunately, Jean-Pierre stuck to her explanation for what should otherwise be viewed as a sign of cognitive decline.

“I think people can understand...when someone is at top of mind. And — and this was such an important, uh, such an important event when we're talking about hunger,” Jean-Pierre said.

Despite his apology to Jean-Pierre for asking, CBS News Radio’s Steven Portnoy said he was “compelled to ask...about Congresswoman Walorski.” When Jean-Pierre wanted to know “why,” Portnoy insisted her “memory...and history requires some clarity here.”

Portnoy even gave Jean-Pierre an out to claim it was put in the teleprompter, but she didn’t take it and instead accused him of “jumping to a lot of conclusions” (click “expand”):

PORTNOY: Can you explain where the mistake was made? Did the President — was the President confused? Was there something written in the teleprompter that he didn't recognize? Can you just help us understand what happened?

JEAN-PIERRE: I mean, you're jumping to a lot of conclusions.

PORTNOY: I’m simply seeking [inaudible] to find out — 

JEAN-PIERRE: No, but you’re — 

PORTNOY: — what happened here?

JEAN-PIERRE: — but I — no, I hear you, Steven and I'm answering the question that you're jumping to a lot of conclusions. I just answered the question. If I had — if that had been the case, I would have stated that, right? I have — I would have stated that clearly — have stated what you just laid out. What I have said is that she was on top of mind and that he is going to see her family in just two days time on Friday to honor her, to honor her work, to honor, uh, to honor her legacy, if you will. 


PORTNOY: Would you be prepared to release the prepared remarks that the President had in the teleprompter just so we can understand?

JEAN-PIERRE: I'm not understanding why — why that would be — would be necessary. We always share the remarks that the President had, um, uh, even you know, delivered. That's probably gonna be on the website. Uh, not really sure what that has to do with anything. I just answered the question about her being on top of mind. I don't think that's any — that's unusual.

The Washington Post’s Matt Viser took a similar track and leaned into his role as Team Biden’s potted plant before asking about Biden’s now-infamous gaffe: “I think we all totally get why she’s top of mind. You've made that case pretty effectively. But I think the confusing part is why, if she and the family is top of mind, does the President think that she's living and in the room?”

Jean-Pierre continued to gaslight by claiming she “[doesn’t] find that confusing” and “many people” have behaved this way and called out for someone because they’re “top of mind” with that being the case because Walorski was passionate about food insecurity.

In the back rows, some reporters decided they had enough, including Newsmax’s James Rosen: “I have John Lennon top of mind just about every day but I'm not looking around for him anywhere.”

Jean-Pierre thought she had him caught with this dead fish of a zinger: “When you sign a bill for John Lennon — Lennon as president, then we can have this conversion.”

From there, chaos ensued. EWTN’s Owen Jensen first wondered “why don’t you just apologize” and continued as Jean-Pierre tried to escape by calling on a friendly reporter in USA Today’s Michael Collins. 

Unfortunately for her, the shouting didn’t stop, led by al-Jazerra English’s Kimberly Halkett stating the fact that “[t]hese moments of confusion are happening with increasing frequency” and that “Americans...have concerns.” Jean-Pierre kept calling out to Collins and later scolded Halkett (click “expand”):

JENSEN: Why don’t you just apologize?

JEAN-PIERRE: [TO MICHAEL COLLINS] Okay, go ahead. Go ahead.


HALKETT: But the question — 


HALKETT: — is the frequency, Karine. 


OWEN JENSEN: Wouldn’t that be the humble thing to do and just apologize?


HALKETT: These moments of confusion  — 

JEAN-PIERRE [TO COLLINS]: Go ahead. Go ahead.

HALKETT: — are happening — 


HALKETT: — with increasing frequency.

JENSEN: Why don’t ya just apologize?

JEAN-PIERRE [TO COLLINS]: Go ahead. Go ahead.

COLLINS: Excuse me, there are reports that —

HALKETT: Americans are watching this happen and have concerns. 

COLLINS: — there are reports that —

HALKETT: What do you say to that?

JENSEN: It sounds like you’re making excuses.

COLLINS: — that the Treasury Secretary —

HALKETT: This is a legitimate question. 

COLLINS: — Yellin is likely to leave —

HALKETT: We need to have some answers.

COLLINS: — this administration at the end of the year. What can you tell us about that?

JEAN-PIERRE: I’m sorry. Somebody was yelling —


JEAN-PIERRE: — over you, so —

HALKETT: Just asking about the mental — 


HALKETT: — acuity of the President.

JEAN-PIERRE [TO COLLINS]: Go ahead. Go ahead.

HALKETT: This is a valid question.

COLLINS: There are reports that the Treasury Secretary, Yellin, is looking to leave —

JEAN-PIERRE [TO HALKETT]: It is not your turn —

COLLINS: — at the end of this year.

JEAN-PIERRE [TO HALKETT]: — to speak. And you’re being rude to your colleagues. And let your colleague answer the question.

HALKETT: I’m not being rude. I’m asking a serious question.

JEAN-PIERRE [TO HALKETT]: No, I — you’re yelling — and over colleague, so that is incredibly rude.

STEVEN NELSON: Can you give us an answer to the substance of the question here?

JEAN-PIERRE [TO COLLINS]: Go ahead. Go ahead.

HALKETT: We’re just trying to get an answer, Karine.

COLLINS: There are reports that the Treasury Secretary —

HALKETT: Top of mind is not a good answer.

COLLINS: — Yellin is looking to leave the administration at the end of the year? What can you tell us about those reports and, also, are you preparing for the departure of other administration officials by the end of the year?

A few minutes after things calmed down, Real Clear Politics’ Philip Wegmann had the last Walorski question and tried to see if Jean-Pierre would return to reality: “Does he believe he handled that reference appropriately or is this something that he would like to get back?”

Jean-Pierre played dumb and, after acknowledging it's “a question...many of you have had,” proclaimed “my answer is certainly not going to change.”

To see the relevant transcript from September 28's briefing, click here.