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White House defends split press briefing after 10-minute, economy-free first attempt

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White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre convened a second briefing on Tuesday after complaints she only took questions for 10 minutes during her first.

Jean-Pierre apologized for the length of her first briefing after she returned to her podium. The original briefing was delayed roughly 30 minutes, dominated by actor Matthew McConaughey, who did not answer questions, and then ended abruptly so reporters could be present at a bill signing ceremony with President Joe Biden. Biden also did not respond to questions at the East Room event.

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“There are times where briefings get delayed for reasons outside of our control, and we wanted to make sure you all had the opportunity to cover the president signing those bills to support veterans, which is incredibly important,” Jean-Pierre said.

Addressing questions is “very important” to the White House, Jean-Pierre added. She touted the administration’s record of holding briefings “almost every day,” compared to that of former President Donald Trump. She additionally cited her team’s endeavors to provide officials for interviews or appearances when asked.

When Jean-Pierre and her communications colleagues departed the briefing room for the first time on Tuesday, one reporter shouted: “Guys, we need a longer briefing.”

She was criticized by Republican operatives, too, including those at the Republican National Committee, for the poor optics.

In reaction to economy-related questions during her second briefing, Jean-Pierre contended the economy is in “a better place than it has been historically” amid inflated consumer prices and slowing gross domestic product growth.

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“He’s doing his part in trying to make sure that the American people are feeling the impact less,” she said.