After the country vanquished tweeter-in-chief Donald Trump last November, Jen Psaki, among others, promised that the days of unhinged 2 a.m. tweets from the executive branch were over. Instead, the Biden White House stacked its comms team with former Obama administration millennials more famous for their posturing on the ‘promise of hashtag’ and #UnitedForUkraine than for a cohesive message. Some things don’t change.
Trump primarily used his Twitter feed to lash out at media critics and yell at athletes. But the Biden administration is also using Twitter, to guide its policy and messaging decisions by gleaning them from a willing media.
Take White House chief of staff Ron Klain. He seems to be glued to Twitter, following the message of journalists daily and racking up the likes himself.
According to a report by NBC News, Klain averaged 60 posts a day back in March, most of which, about 40 percent, were retweets of journalists and news outlets. Could there be a clearer attempt to keep the DC media on the desired message of President Klain and his administration? Jen Psaki has also mentioned how she peers down the Twitter feeds of journalists; evidently she uses them as a guide in how to shift or set the tone of messaging from the administration. But who is really controlling who here?
Earlier this week, Biden, Psaki and White House economic adviser Gene Sperling, were confronted with questions about the COVID-19 eviction moratorium deadline. All stated that the administration did not appear to possess the constitutional authority to override the Supreme Court and issue a standalone executive order extending it. In the Sperling presser, PBS White House reporter Yamiche Alcindor lobbied the administration to do just that. ‘Why not force the Supreme Court to make the decision, and is the decision to not go to the Supreme Court?’ Alcindor pressed. ‘Does it have anything to do with fears that the Supreme Court might strike down the administration’s broad use of public health laws for other policies?’
Within 24 hours, Joe Biden, having declared several times that he did not have the authority for such an order, complied with Alcindor’s request, to the delight of her fellow blue-check reporters. Alcindor is also pushing the administration to levy penalties on states that do not comply with a national and federal mask mandate, such as Florida. Who knows how that will turn out for them…
While the President himself may not know how to use a computer, 137 years of age that he is, his comms team follow the example of the acting president in the Chief of Staff’s office. They appear to be Way More Online than even the administration of ‘the Former Guy’.
Left-leaning journalists know they can nudge this administration in the direction they want it to go with their tweets. The trouble is, not many more people besides self-promoting journalists have dominant voices on Twitter. There’s an insular bubble in Washington DC containing the blue-checks and the administration. Who knows how their shared policy vision will sit with the people outside it?