Presidential Transition – November 29, 2020
President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Sunday announced an all-female White House communications staff, with Jennifer Psaki, a veteran of the Obama administration, in the most visible role as White House press secretary.
“Communicating directly and truthfully to the American people is one of the most important duties of a president,” Mr. Biden said in a statement, drawing an implicit contrast with the Trump administration’s use of the White House briefing room to disseminate falsehoods and try to undermine the credibility of the news media.
The transition team also announced that Kate Bedingfield, 39, who served as a deputy campaign manager for Mr. Biden, will serve as the White House communications director. Karine Jean Pierre, who previously served as the chief public affairs officer for MoveOn.org, will be the principal deputy press secretary.
Pili Tobar, a former immigrant advocate with the group America’s Voice, will serve as the deputy White House communications director.
Symone Sanders, a senior adviser to Mr. Biden on the campaign, will serve as the senior adviser and chief spokeswoman for Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. Ashley Etienne, a former senior adviser to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, will serve as the communications director for Ms. Harris.
“President-elect Biden has a history of advocating on behalf of women in the U.S. and around the world, and today’s announcement is a continuation of that work,” Ron Klain, the incoming chief of staff, said in a statement.
Ms. Psaki, 41, previously served as the White House communications director for President Barack Obama and as the State Department spokeswoman under Secretary of State John Kerry.
On Twitter, Ms. Psaki said she saw her job as trying to “rebuild trust of the American people” and noted that many of the women on the team, including herself, were also mothers of young children. She said she planned to “think outside of the box” about how to use the podium to make the Biden-Harris agenda more accessible to the public. She did not say whether she planned to reinstate the daily press briefing.
But it was still a contrast with how the four press secretaries who worked for President Trump have viewed their role. At her first press briefing in May, the current White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, vowed never to lie to the press, but found that vow immediately tested. She has since toggled between speaking on behalf of the administration and speaking as a political operative on behalf of Mr. Trump’s campaign, blurring the line between government and politics.
Other Trump press secretaries did away with the daily press briefing entirely or used it as a tool to spread falsehoods and cater to the proverbial audience of one who was often watching and grading their performances from the television set in the dining room off the Oval Office.
Sean Spicer, Mr. Trump’s first White House press secretary, set the tone for the administration when he falsely claimed that the president’s inauguration crowd was the “largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe.” (NYT)
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