President Obama announced today that musician and Celebrity Apprentice star Dionne Warwick will replace Jay Carney as White House Press Secretary. The move is largely seen as the result of Carney’s less-than-stellar performance after being grilled by the media on Benghazi and the IRS. But critics are calling the move a diversion.
“Ms. Warwick is certainly a legend. No one here is disputing that. But you really have to question whether or not she is qualified for the office that she’s been appointed to,” says media analyst Neil Jacobs. Warwick held her first White House press briefing shortly after the announcement, much to the chagrin of many notable reporters.
Warwick’s first verbal spat came when USA Today’s Bert Hoynes questioned Warwick’s characterization of what she referred to as “negativity” from the press pool. “First of all, let me say that you’re a legend,” Hoynes said. “I respect that. But do you really feel that the press isn’t treating you fairly?”
“Did I say that?” a snappy Warwick retorted. When Hoynes answered in the affirmative, Warwick snapped back, “Well I’m sorry you interpreted it that way,” before promptly moving on to another question from the press pool.
Later on, Warwick engaged Fox News’ Shep Smith in a similar manner. When Smith inquired as to whether Warwick’s appointment was a response to what Smith referred to as “the Benghazi scandal,” Warwick quickly called Smith a coward for not telling the truth, then shot back, “The President is a beautiful man. Once you start reporting that we can move forward.”
Sources close to Warwick say that this is not out of character for the legendary artist. Her Celebrity Apprentice co-star LaToya Jackson said in an interview with MPR’s Nonso Christian Ugbode, “Dionne has… well, a way of criticizing you and detracting from the actual issue being discussed, through insinuation alone. You can have the sweetest conversation with her, then walk away and feel… well just awful about yourself. She really has a way of undermining any negative thing said about her and firing it right back at everyone in the room. Yes, I think that makes her the perfect White House press secretary.”
Warwick has indicated that she fully intends to serve out the remainder of President Obama’s term in her new post, however hasn’t closed the door on simultaneously appearing on a future season of Celebrity Apprentice.
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