Jean-Pierre clashes with reporters pressing her about neurologist’s White House visits: ‘I do take offense’

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White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre had an explosive exchange with CBS reporter Ed O’Keefe as the Biden administration faces intense scrutiny over recent revelations of the repeated White House visits of a Parkinson’s disease expert, fueling more questions about President Biden’s mental health. 

A series of reports, first reported by the New York Post, showed that Dr. Kevin Cannard, a neurologist from Walter Reed Military Medical Center who specializes in Parkinson’s disease, met several times with Biden’s physician, Dr. Kevin O’Connor, over the past year. 

During Monday’s press briefing, Jean-Pierre repeatedly would not confirm Cannard’s White House visits to reporters, citing security and privacy concerns despite the fact that Cannard’s name was listed in the public visitor logs.

After Jean-Pierre dodged questions from Associated Press reporter Zeke Miller about whether Cannard’s visits pertained to Biden’s health, saying, “I’m not going to share people’s [doctors’] names,” O’Keefe lost his patience. 



White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was bombarded with questions about President Biden’s mental health on Monday’s press briefing. (REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein)

“It’s a very basic, direct question,” O’Keefe shouted, grabbing her attention. “That’s what you should be able to answer by this point.”

“No, no, no, no, no,” Jean-Pierre immediately pushed back. “Ed, please. A little respect here. Please.”

“So every year around the president’s physical examination, he sees a neurologist. That’s three times, right? So I am telling you that he has seen a neurologist three times while he has been in this presidency. That’s what I’m saying,” Jean-Pierre continued. “I’m telling you that he has seen him three times. That is what I’m sharing with you, right? So every time he has a physical, he has had to see a neurologist. So that is answering that question.”


“No, it’s not,” O’Keefe doubled down. “Has Dr. Kevin Cannard come to the White House specifically about the president’s condition?”

“Ed, I also said to you for security reasons, we cannot share names. We cannot share names,” she responded, adding “We cannot share names of specialists broadly from our dermatologist to neurologist. We cannot share names. There are security reasons-“

“They’re on the visitors log. It’s public,” O’Keefe pushed back. “I looked at it before I got here. It’s right there for anyone to see.”

“Ed, I hear you,” Jean-Pierre told the reporter. “I cannot, from here, confirm any of that because we have to keep their privacy. I think they would appreciate that, too.”

KJP shouts at Ed O'Keefe

Jean-Pierre got into a heated spat with CBS News correspondent Ed O’Keefe as she repeatedly dodged questions about a Parkinson’s disease expert’s numerous visits to the White House.  (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

After O’Keefe got an assist from NBC correspondent Kelly O’Donnell, who also stressed that Cannard’s visitor logs are public, Jean-Pierre clamped down on the shoutfest.

“There’s no reason to go back and forth with me in this aggressive way,” Jean-Pierre scolded the reporters. 

“Well, we are miffed around here about what has been shared with the press corps about him,” an exasperated O’Keefe said. 

“What are you miffed about?” Jean-Pierre responded. 


“Everything he just asked about,” O’Keefe said pointing to Miller before knocking the press secretary’s recent “clean-up” over whether Biden had seen a doctor following last month’s debate.

After disputing O’Keefe’s claim that she had to correct herself, Jean-Pierre reiterated, “I am telling you right now that I am not sharing, confirming names from here. It is a security reason. I am not going to do that, Ed. It doesn’t matter how hard you push me, it doesn’t matter how angry you get with me. I’m not going to confirm a name. It doesn’t matter if it’s even in the log. I am not going to do that from here. That is not something I am going to do.” 

“What I can share with you is that the president has seen a neurologist for his physical three times, three times, and it is in the reporting that we share a comprehensive reporting,” she said. “As a matter of fact, it’s more than what the last guy shared. And it is in line with what George W. Bush did. It’s in line with what Obama did. And so it is comprehensive. It is out there. I just read a quote from it, but I am not, I am not going to devolve somebody’s name in or confirm someone. I’m not going to do that… It doesn’t matter how hard you push me, it doesn’t matter how angry you get with me from here. I’m just not going to do that. It is inappropriate. It is not acceptable. So I’m not going to do it.”

Joe Biden

Reports of President Biden’s mental decline have exploded ever since his disastrous presidential debate performance last month.  (Getty Images)

Several reporters went on to grill Jean-Pierre over why she wouldn’t share the doctor’s name, then she took a moment to address her heated spat with the CBS correspondent.

“I just want to take a step back for a second because I do take offense to what Ed alluded to,” Jean-Pierre said. “You know, I come out here every day there’s a press briefing, and we do our best to give you the information that we have at the time. That’s what we do. And we understand that the freedom of the press, we respect the freedom of the press. You heard me talk about this last week. I appreciate the back and forth that we all have. I try to respect you and hope you try to respect me. And we literally do everything that we can- my team does everything that we can to make sure we get the answers to you. That’s what we do.” 


“And sometimes we disagree. Sometimes we are not in agreement. But you know what, that’s democracy. That is what is important, to have that healthy back and forth. And so, to say that I’m holding information or allude to anything else is not [fair]. It’s really, really unfair,” she said.

“I think people who are watching, have been watching this briefing for this past week could say that we are doing our best in this briefing to provide the information that we have. And I will admit, I will be the first one to admit sometimes I get it wrong. At least I admit that. At least I admit that. And sometimes I don’t have the information. And I will always, always admit that. But I do take offense to what was just happening at the beginning of this briefing. It’s not okay,” she added. 

As O’Donnell explained why the press was trying to get clarity on why the name of the doctor wouldn’t be released, Jean-Pierre said, “Yeah. But the personal attacks is not okay.”

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