Biden’s White House and the Press: “It’s a head-spinning departure from four years of President Trump.”

From a politico.com story by Eugene Daniels headlined “The Biden White House media doctrine: Less can be more”:

Three months in, Joe Biden’s White House has settled on a firm press strategy: First, do no self-harm.

The president is not doing cable news interviews. Tweets from his account are limited and, when they come, unimaginably conventional. The public comments are largely scripted. Biden has opted for fewer sit down interviews with mainstream outlets and reporters. He’s had just one major press conference — though another is coming — and prefers remarks straight to camera for the marquee moments….

It’s the Hippocratic Oath for engagement with the fourth estate. And if it means criticism from the press and opponents about Biden’s availability, so be it….

It is a head-spinning departure from four years of President Donald Trump, who was his own surrogate and aspiring assignment editor, tweeting changes to policy and taking the typically adversarial relationship with the press to a full-on war.

But Biden’s approach is also markedly different from his former boss Barack Obama. In 2009, Obama became the first sitting president to appear on a late night talk show and at the end of his presidency, the administration began to explore new and innovative ways to reach beyond the White House press corps to get his message across….

Inside the White House, there is a belief that Biden can be used best as a marquee player coming in at big moments when there is a need to reset the press narrative or push a major policy. It hasn’t always gone according to plan — on occasion, the White House has had to walk back or clarify comments Biden has made in the interviews he has given.

But as a strategy, it is a return to an era that predated the Obama White House, when the country heard from the president sparingly.

But it’s also a continuation of the campaign strategy — especially during the general election — premised on the idea that too much exposure didn’t necessarily work to his benefit. That mindset sparked criticism from the press as well as then-President Trump, who was doing daily press briefings on Covid-19 while his opponent was largely broadcasting from his home in Delaware. But Biden aides believed that simplicity and restraint was the best approach. He won the election….

Robert Gibbs, Obama’s first press secretary, says that the current media environment forces a balance for any White House staff. The American people want to see the president working. But overexposure carries risk — and not just in the form of increasing the chances for a notable gaffe….

Gibbs said he was a bit envious of the Biden White House’s use of surrogates who could take some of the burden and blowback from explaining the White House’s policies.

The Biden Cabinet have quickly become press mainstays. This Sunday alone, Secretary of State Antony Blinken was on “Meet the Press,” Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm hit “This Week” and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg pulled double duty on Fox News Sunday and State of the Union….

During the 2020 campaign, Biden’s team was cognizant of not putting him in situations that weren’t naturally comfortable. That didn’t mean forfeiting the digital landscape. It meant not overusing the principal and finding new and creative ways to meet folks on the Internet. Rob Flaherty, the White House digital director, says when they were building out the plan, the first thing on their mind was they had to go beyond the press and find ways to be “in every single place, because online, people’s media experiences are hyper-personalized and super-fractured.”

The White House’s social accounts are not stream-of-consciousness rants by the president. They’re not terribly adventurous, either. They have largely consisted of edited clips of Biden’s public remarks and weekly conversations where Biden answers questions from Americans on policy. The president’s team has taken a pretty surefire bet: most Americans aren’t hanging out on Twitter like the denizens of D.C. are.

“We get off of our platforms and go into the social feeds of people who will never watch CNN or read Vox but will and do trust various influencers and Instagram accounts and Facebook pages,” Flaherty said. “When you do those things, you are actually getting into these sort of nooks and crannies of the Internet that the White House would not normally reach.”

Democrats from the Obama years say they expect the Biden team will have to start using Biden himself in more unconventional ways once (and if) the country ever feels like it’s not in the throes of one life-altering crisis after another. But one thing that doesn’t seem likely to change: a return to any of the press drama from the Trump years, no matter how much right wing media hammers on “Basement Joe.”

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