NEW: President Biden is enlisting hundreds of TikTok stars and social media influencers to promote his political messaging to young voters — and may give them their own briefing room at the White House. https://t.co/1HSOH1p7z8
— Sophia Cai (@SophiaCai99) April 9, 2023
I looked for more information about this today, but so far it seems to be this one Axios reporter being promoted by scare-mongers at CNBC, because OMG THE IGNORANT KIDDY HORDES ARE COMING TO DESTROY THE HALLOWED WH PRESS ROOM excites their fellow journos in a way NEW BIDEN ADMIN OUTREACH TO YOUNG PEOPLE does not…
President Biden’s not-yet-official bid for re-election will lean on hundreds of social media “influencers” who will tout Biden’s record — and soon may have their own briefing room at the White House, Axios has learned.
Why it matters: The move aims to boost Biden’s standing among young voters who are crucial to Democrats’ success in elections — and to potentially counter former President Trump‘s massive social media following, if he’s the GOP nominee in 2024.
– Biden’s digital strategy team will connect with influencers across the nation to target those who may not follow the White House or Democratic Party on social media — or who have tuned out mainstream media altogether.
– Four Biden digital staffers are focused on influencers and independent content creators. The staffers officially work for the White House, not Biden’s campaign — but reaching young and suburban voters is clearly a priority.
– Young voters (ages 18-29) preferred Biden over Trump by a 26-point margin in 2020, and Democrats over Republicans by 28 points in the 2022 midterms.
– A measure of the importance Team Biden is placing on its digital strategy: Rob Flaherty, who leads the effort, has been named assistant to the president — the same rank as the White House communications director and press secretary.
What they’re saying: “We’re trying to reach young people, but also moms who use different platforms to get information and climate activists and people whose main way of getting information is digital,” said Jen O’Malley Dillon, White House deputy chief of staff…
Zoom in: A dedicated White House briefing space for influencers to meet in person or by remote would be unprecedented — and a sign that the traditional Press Briefing Room no longer would be the administration’s only messaging center.
Zoom out: Besides White House invitations, the administration has given influencers opportunities for access to Biden when he goes on the road…
This seems… fine? I mean, it’s probably scary for the Respectable Mainstream Media that some no-credentials ‘influencer’ might get the same chance as nepo-baby Peter Doocey to have their indignant idiocies widely circulated — Murphy forbid, some of these kids might ask questions that don’t fit The Narrative, and then what will become of the highly-paid pundit class?
I also remember the Obama administration taking flak for reaching out to young social influencers. But wasn’t (isn’t) TFG widely applauded for ‘taking his story directly to the voters’ by using new forms of social media?
Who was that writer for Teen Vogue who did all those amazing articles during TFG’s Reign of Error and the pandemic? Does she have a seat in the WH briefing room yet? Yeah, “might ask questions that don’t fit The Narrative” indeed!
Gosh, all these hoi polloi just coming in and messing up our little village! I must to the fainting couch hasten!
this is great! If the old guard doesn’t want to let the Dems onto the pitch to play, find, we’ll use this field over here….
if the MSM is outraged, well…. fuck ’em. They weren’t giving our side a fair shake anyways and they’ve had plenty of opportunity to recognize the fascists in their own fucking house and if the other side is running multiple propaganda networks and have grabbed control of radio and most of print media, then needs be we find a way to reach those people who have been turned off by those methods…..
I can hear all the harrumphing about “Biden’s use of young people to spread administration propaganda” already, plus bonus pearl clutching by Villagers.
Which is good. Anything that causes Villager pearl clutching is a worthy endeavor.
[insert “ow my balls” clip from Idiocracy]
I remember when the Obama White House shocked their press corps by letting Sam Stein in even though he only reported via the internets, whatever that was.
Oddly enough, I don’t remember as big of an outcry from them when TFG had a Press Secretary for a year that didn’t give one single briefing.
I applaud this effort, especially if it recognizes that for many younger people, traditional media is simply irrelevant.
It will be interesting to see how this outreach ties into get out the vote outreach.
[posted this downstairs where it didnt’ belong]
It occurs to me that this isn’t a tactic the GrOPers can copy: “influencers” by definition have to have followers (among the young), and it’s difficult for me to imagine conservatives spouting all the various bullshit they must spout, and amassing a real following among the young.
It’s a little embarrassing, when Old Granpa Joe is more on top of current trends among Da Yoot, than merely almost-old me. *grin
Am I alone in detesting the term “influencers?”
Pfeh, ptui and blech.
@NotMax: could be worse, could be evangelizers…how I HATED that in the tech world 20 + years ago….
Gawd I hope they are doing this. Political idiocy if Joe isn’t.
Most of traditional media IS simply irrelevant.
It is because a lot of that media is not actually doing as much reporting as it is doing speechifying, trying to set up the story to meet their ideals. Few of which sound decent to a young person because the media want it to be about money and prestige. Their money and prestige. And people not enthralled with large sums of prestige and money see through that rather easily. I mean it must be nice to inherit a lot of money and not have to actually work for a living and a life but that isn’t most people. It is more people than it used to be when I started out but it isn’t the entire nation. Not even close. The rich and famous. In so many ways I’m so glad that my life didn’t take me there in any way shape or form. I don’t have to be a pompous, arrogant, ass to get attention, I don’t actually need attention to live my life. I don’t actually want that attention because it’s phony, it becomes not about the person but the money. This guy, this family, they must be fantastic because they have lots of money. And by far most are not.
@NotMax: Most of those I’ve experienced, those who are what I’ve been told are ‘influencers’, or especially those who self describe themselves so, are people I’d just as soon never heard of.
This ‘digital strategy team’ is well intentioned, but, …well, here’s hoping they’ve put up some high guardrails.
I can’t influence my cat, Salad, to use the litter box that is inside away from the rain and inclement weather.
Salad, (I typed out “my” and I don’t own that animal any more than I own the sky), and obvious influencer, instead dashes to the kitchen window, and with a short glance over his shoulder like he’s part of the 101st on DDay, leaps forth into the maelstrom.
I am pretty goddamn sure that sneaky motherfucker knows that if he goes out into the rain and gets wet and most times comes back with mud-foot, he’s getting a vigorous rub-down and drying off.
I think he likes the rub down.
It is vigorous.
@AlaskaReader: it would seem [I don’t use any socia media other than comment-sections here & LG&M] that what would matter in influencers is (1) size of following (can be assessed by looking at how much $$ they get from their sponsors) and (2) some vague assessment of whether their sponsor is reputable. I can imagine that Ms. O’Malley Dillon would move heaven and earth to give even semi-regular briefings to Kim Kardashian and her family, for instance. [I mean, I’ve never watched any of her …. stuff, but I hear it’s real, real popular]
I am sure Salad does like the rub down. Glad to see you, your post a few nights ago was worrisome.
This, to the nth power, has also been my experience.
They’re not peddling content so much as peddling themselves. Chasing acquisition of celebrity as an end.
@Chetan Murthy: Wait, ….Kardashians?
Whole lot of negative baggage with that popularity,
…I’d hope they aim much much higher.
As long as the old school journalists let Peter Doocey broadcast under the press banner as one of their own, they’ve got nothing to say about any random 12 year old who can finger poke his way onto TikTok. Like what, suddenly journalists have some standards they purport to adhere to? (I mean, I know they’re *supposed* to, but it sure seems like they haven’t.)
Seriously, they need to clean up their own house before they start making claims that newcomers are going to dirty the place up.
OT …how does National Hug Your Dog day elapse without thread or recognition on BJ?
@David Chop: Blogger Ethics Panels
This might be true. But I was just talking about something simpler. A lot of younger people just don’t get their news directly from traditional sources. They don’t watch the PBS News Hour or the Sunday pundit shows. They don’t subscribe to newspapers or regularly visit mainstream news websites.
But this has nothing to do with quality or with rejecting the message of mainstream media.
It is just that they have different news gathering habits.
This is also not to say that their news sources are necessarily better.
But people age 21 to 30 might never see a White House story if it is distributed via a White House press briefing and a breaking news story on CNN, MSNBC, Fox News and the New York Times.
Also, some alternative media like The Young Turks, tend to be so pro Bernie that they might not reliably report White House news they do not agree with.
ETA. In the UK I continually see stories that point out the incredible bias against the Labour Party with respect to most traditional media, and yet the Labour Party simply does not know how to use social media at all.
And hell, even King Charles 3 is using social media to transmit news about his upcoming coronation this May.
@Brachiator: Very good points.
Sounds like a great idea to me. Whatever it takes, just do it.
@AlaskaReader: Since I literally know [holds index finger, thumb a few mm apart] “this much” about them, can you enlighten me as to what you mean about “negative baggage”? I mean, we’re talking about reaching a demographic that isn’t exactly looking for weighty disquisitions on Clausewitz here: if influencers can reach enough young people to get them to understand that the reason their world is on fire is the rich and the right-wing rich in particular, that’s a win, isn’t it?
Maybe what I mean is: who’s it going to turn off, if Kim and other influencers like her started pushing the Dem line ?
They started making inroads after the 2015 Leadership election, when a LOT of younger people became excited about the potential of politics for the first time and that spilled out across the Intertubes, but the long-term divide between the then Leadership’s aims for the country and the obstructive mulishness of the Party’s bureaucracy left the possibilities for Labour going around the dead-tree media lying unused on the table.
With the current leadership the Party bureaucracy is totally fine with whatever diktats come down from above, unfortunately Diktat Numero Uno is “Centralised Control over Message Discipline or Death!” and Diktat Numero Dos is “The Electorate consists solely of two racist white guys in ‘Inger-Lund 4 The Cup’ footie tops drinking crap lager in a half empty pub-restaurant beergarden off the M62 while their bulldogs maul immigrant children and hump passing rats“.
Neither of which are exactly fodder for exciting new moves on the Social Media dancefloor.
I saw recently that Donald Trump was considering hiring Laura Loomer for his campaign. Anyway, wasn’t this whole ‘alt right’ little boom during the Trump years just outreach to online influencers?
So, yob creation?
Is OnlyFans considered social media?
The Green Man is also a black comedy film starring Alastair Sim as a serial assassin and bomber.
@Chetan Murthy: Does Kanye not ring any bells?
Maybe an accurate term for the life-threatening anxiety felt by the MSM is disruption. The presence of those damn outside influencers will disrupt the perpetuation of the rw-leaning MSM who’s members must be properly vetted before being admitted.
I am totally totally stealing the term disruption from Cotlar’s thread on the right’s anxiety about perpetuating their racism if people are actually exposed to other races.
Might as well leverage all available tools, but they better be careful with who the recruit while also being hands off so the people they get are allowed to do their own thing. They need to hit that space where what’s being posted isn’t painfully stupid, while also avoiding HelloFellowKids.jpg.
Not sure how they’ll try and stand out from the crowd though. Influencers and followers and stuff, yeah, that helps for sure; but the pure volume of everything on the various platforms is just obscene. And I mean everything. You have any type of opinion on any subject imaginable and you can get thousands of idiot videos on TikTok confirming whatever it is you’re thinking. Throw in bots reposting and adding copy/paste comments and it’s an ecosystem where quantity very much has a quality all its own.
Speaking of Repubs in digital disarray.
@matt: I was gonna say pretty much this. But when TFG was using his alt reich flying monkeys, wasn’t it reported as “savvy”?
@Brachiator: Every September, our county Democratic party has a steak fry fundraiser. In 2019, before the Iowa caucuses, there were about a dozen presidential candidates and between 11,000 and 12,000 attendees.
It’s much smaller now (Covid, non presidential year, and now, no caucuses). But we still went in 2022. We were sitting with similarly aged people, chatting, when I noticed a small knot of very young people at a nearby table. I taught college fresh/soph for decades, loved that age group, but have lost touch with them since I retired. I asked if I could join them, they said yes, and we talked about where they and their friends got their news. All Tik/Tok. And they weren’t seeing anything about current candidates there. Two of them were studying communications at Drake University and one was, just then, in a course on political communication. I asked her if she would like to work with one of the campaigns. Her face lit up.
I went over to the staff of our then Congresswoman, and asked for their youngest staffer. He was a little old for what I wanted, about 24, but he agreed to come with me and meet the 18-20 year olds. So we went over, they began conversation, and I left.
Then I found Mike Franken, running for Senate against Chuck Grassley. I’d had warm conversations with him before. I asked him if he had anyone working on Tik/Tok and he said he was getting around to it. But mostly he was distracted and brushing me off. This was less than two months before the election.
Both of them lost. I am mostly meeting people here through Democratic party events. The general impression I’m getting is that both candidates had too much outside, “professional” direction, not enough looking and listening to people on the ground.
We have to give young people more power, no matter how uncomfortable it is. They are the ones who grew up with active shooter drills. They are the ones losing rights to their own bodies. We have to give them the microphone and we have to learn to listen well.
@NotMax: Ah yes, a favorite in my own internal soundtrack, when no other tune will do.
Hmmmm Kelly-Ann, some of the young people you’re losing because they are getting shot by your gunhumper supporters.
Hard to win them back.
I don’t see the difference between this and the GOP recruiting off 4chan.
Other than the nazis, obviously.
Shit, even if it’s little kids actually run by China, that isn’t worse than Beltway creatures actually run by Russia. Better would be nice. Better is probably easier to get to this way, than by sticking to how things have been…
Very savvy and gives me hope (and will be the newest reason for GOP to ban Tik Tok!).
Since none of you seem to have heard of any of the political influencers the White House has invited in the past, here’s a couple of stellar examples: (these are just YouTube subscribers)
Politics Girl, 71,700 subscribers
Brian Tyler Cohen, 1.87 million subscribers
also Liberal Redneck, 800,000+ subscribers
@Nelle: Bravo! I taught the same age group for decades and am upvoting what you said (and did)!
Look, when Republicans do it (or don’t do it), it’s “bold,” it “moves past outmoded habits,” and it “looks to the future.” But when Democrats do it, it’s “radical,” it’s a “risky leap,” and it’s a DAMN OUTRAGE! That’s just the way things are. Why do you hate America so much?
Strongly concur. We want them in the game, and that’s not going to happen unless we listen to them (even when it’s uncomfortable) and take them seriously.
All excellent examples to which I would add Allison Gill @MuellerSheWrote withh 650 K followers
@Wag: absolutely! I overlooked her, and I subscribe to her on Twitter, my bad.
That CNBC guy is out of this world. How will this affect free speech? But they are not regulated? Has he heard about the Dominion case? I am not a trained journalist, but I went to law school? It’s to laugh.
I hope he is doing more than just promoting Biden. I want him to promote the habit of voting and an under of strategy and the only power in a democracy is collective action. You feel helpless because your own one vote can’t change anything, but actually you can if you and your cohort get in the habit of voting their interests. Teach them to stick together and share their vote support with others in return. Teach them why you have to be happy with imperfect candidates that can win and you always need as many as you can get.
Stories such as what happened in California when they finally got enough democrats in office, the difference between when we had both houses to when the republicans did etc…teach the history of spoiler candidates too.
So where’s all the people who constantly about how Biden/Dems don’t do enough outreach to young voters?? Or is this not doing it right either?
While I have to say the “influencers” turn me off because they are able to make tons of money with very little effort, they do have a lot of power. We are living in a strange new world, and we should strategically make use of social media to reach young people to convince them that voting makes a difference.
@Nelle: Really wish I could upvote this 1000x.
It’s finally dawning on more people that the Anti-TikTok moves are mostly anti-Democratic-Party moves. The security concerns are mostly a fig leaf distracting from that agenda.
The Moar You Know
@Bill Arnold: here’s the problem: the security concerns are not a “fig leaf”. They are absolutely legit; the software sends your location and any data that it can snarf up out of your phone and sends it right to China. Proven.
However, I don’t see that as being terribly different from having Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or Instagram on your phone, as those apps do exactly the same thing. LinkedIn is the worst offender of them all, BTW.
That doing something about these security issues (the government should ban all social media applications for government employees and elected officials, period) affects Dems more – and the Tik Tok ban definitely affects Dems more – is an unfortunate benefit for Republicans. But it is not made-up bullshit to give Republicans a leg up.
Wish the youths had picked another platform.
This is great news.
Young people are a huge potential constituency. They’re the ones who will be stuck with the world their elders created.
If their energy, anger, and dedication isn’t channelled into representative politics, they’re more likely to either sink back into apathy or go the anarcho-nihilist route.
West of the Rockies
Yeah, sounds too much like a bunch of the snotty high school popular kids grouped up.
Liberal redneck for sure. May be a little older than some but funny as hell. Of course I really like the Rude Pundit too. Their politics and analysis is dead on.
A friend with two early 20’s kids that grew up politically aware, one of whom is an intern/college student for a Congresswoman, and says are all in on Tiktok. The quote by both is they will be in the streets of Tiktok is banned; it is their connection to the world and their friends. It is NOT a laughing matter, they are serious. We as D’s need this and I applaud the Biden White house for recognising this is how to reach the most strongly D voting age group there is!
I accept that at 64 I am no longer who advertisers care about and my time of influence in the world is over; I’m thrilled that the youth are so liberal and I WANT THEM to organize and be politically active in whichever way that reaches them! Given the naysaying here over this initiative, no wonder they get pissed about Boomers insisting the world revolve around their preferences. Jesus, people, just because it’s unfamiliar to you doesn’t automatically disqualify it.
@satby: And V at https://www.tiktok.com/@underthedesknews?lang=en 2.9m followers who has not been contacted by the WH and check with a few pals and no one has heard of this.
@JWR: Yes sir, all we gotta do is convince those young ones that half of their demographic (women) needs to have their reproductive rights controlled by old white men and that none of them need medical care or education or safety from getting shot in school, university, at concerts and in movie theatres, and we have it made.
@The Moar You Know:
According to the New York Times, the CIA reportedly investigated TikTok and found no concrete evidence that Chinese intelligence authorities were spying on users. Nonetheless, this hasn’t prevented strong reactions, such as:
As you say, the other major US social media platforms do not have any demonstrably greater respect for their users.
One would be a fool to assume that Elon Musk and his twitter staff, many of whom are both cheaply-corruptible and ideologues, would not share user information with Saudi assassins, or the Russian government, or the GOP, or the Indian authoritarian government’s operatives, or the like, and that is also assuming that their datastores are genuinely secure from e.g. hacking, which they are not, or against government seizure by one or more nation-states. (To protect children from pedophiles! /s)
@ChrisSherbak: I don’t do TikTok, so I had to go with ones who do cross-platform casts. They all use TikTok too, I just don’t.