The NYTimes Katie Rogers: “We have a new president with little interest in owning every news cycle”

From an Inside the Times column by Aishvarya Kavi headlined “Covering a Different Washington”:

Thirteen weeks into the administration of Joseph R. Biden Jr., Washington feels startlingly different than it did under former President Donald J. Trump. Beyond the change in politics, Mr. Biden has brought a new approach to dealing with the media, has hired a more diverse cabinet, and has a different kind of relationship with his vice president. Katie Rogers, a White House correspondent for The New York Times, discusses how covering political figures has changed under the Biden administration and why it now feels that there are more hours in the day.

Your recent story on the return of the weekend to Washington revealed how a change of power at the White House has changed the city. What inspired you to write it?

It was just a matter of having lived in Washington through the last four years of the Trump era — D.C. had become a political battleground. The fact that President Trump had been removed from Twitter, restaurants were starting to open up again, people were starting to get vaccinations — there was this sense of palpable relief. And we had a new president with little interest in owning every news cycle. He’s not somebody who tweets at midnight on a Friday to fire a cabinet secretary. He has a completely different approach to politics than the one who came before him, and one guy’s personality can really change how we live in Washington. There was this feeling that you suddenly have more hours in the day because you don’t have to be on guard.

You also cover Vice President Kamala Harris. How has the president’s relationship with his vice president changed from the Trump administration to the Biden administration?

In Vice President Kamala Harris, you have somebody who is still figuring out how to be the first woman, the first Black woman, the first woman of Asian descent, in a role that is already really tricky. She’s with a president who understands how challenging that job is. They spend a lot of time together, and he very clearly wants her to be visible and close to him and empowered, which is also very different from how Mr. Trump treated Mike Pence….

How has the first lady, Jill Biden, changed the dynamics within the White House?

When you have a dynamic between the first couple that’s based in honesty and mutual respect, the way that the Bidens have, the White House works differently. The president treats Jill Biden as his gut check. Among all of his advisers, she is the one who says, “Joe, what do you want to do? How do you feel about this?” That’s not really the relationship that Melania Trump and Donald Trump had. Jill Biden is also much more practiced than Melania Trump ever was at being a public, political self….

What has surprised you about the Biden White House so far?

It hasn’t really surprised me, but I think that this administration is disciplined in terms of messaging. It doesn’t want any room for error. But the president likes reporters — you can see him drifting over to them when he is heading to Marine One or answering questions in the Oval Office. He’s not afraid of them. He can be the wild card, and I think that’s in keeping with the Joe Biden that people know, so it’s interesting to see it contrast with the very disciplined White House that he’s built around himself.

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