So, you’re a spokesperson holding a news briefing on a topic that affects your company or organization. In the middle of the briefing, you get a question that you think is silly and irrelevant. You might be tempted to answer with a joke that makes fun of another person. Resist the temptation!

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre failed do that during a recent news briefing and has been sharply criticized for it. Jean-Pierre openly mocked author Marianne Williamson, who says she will oppose President Biden in Democratic Party primaries next year. Supporters say Williamson is a spiritual leader while detractors dismiss her as a pop psychologist. While virtually no one thinks Williamson poses a serious challenge to Biden, it was inappropriate for Jean-Pierre to ridicule her, as you can see in the clip below.

Williamson and her supporters didn’t see anything funny about the press secretary’s remarks. Many Biden supporters agreed this wasn’t a good look for Jean-Pierre and it didn’t service the president’s expected re-election campaign. Her remarks took her off message and actually served to elevate Williamson, who received 48 hours of free media attention as a result of Jean-Pierre’s Joke. While this was a relatively light blunder, it’s the kind of mistake you don’t want to make. What you may think is a harmless joke may be offensive to others. So, when conducting a news briefing, stick to your key messages. And leave the jokes to your favorite comedian!