Biden-Harris Comms Team: To End COVID, Tell Americans the Truth

On day two of taking over the White House, the communications team for the Biden-Harris team sat down with Errin Haines, editor-at-large of The 19th. Haines spoke with the four key women leaders who are now shaping the Biden/Harris message for public consumption. And what is the overarching goal of this new group of self-described “qualified, capable, barrier-breaking” women? To tell Americans the truth, with the underlying belief that if more American know the truth, “they can handle anything.”

Jen Psaki, Press Secretary for the Biden Harris Administration, discussing the work of shaping the administration’s message, what their early priorities are, and how having an all-woman comms team might change how the White House works. (Image Credit: The 19th)

Haines held an hour long rap session with White House Communications Director Kate Bedingfield, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, Principal Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, and Chief Spokesperson for the Vice President, Symone Sanders. 

The team shared about the mighty battles ahead of them as they work diligently to safeguard public health in the midst of the COVID pandemic, rebuild the economy with jobs better suited for a sustainable planet, and deal with the painful realities of racism, sexism, and economic inequality in the U.S.

Psaki described the new comms team as the best in the business in terms of experience and talent with creating powerful, accurate, and honest messaging. “We have this incredible group of amazing women, said Psaki. “None of us are wallflowers, all of us are experienced and tough as nails, and also many of us are moms. ‘Women first,’ sure, but we’re the best in the businesses, and this is the group of women who are the best in the business.”

Kate Bedingfield spoke of how the Biden Harris Adminsitration will make the COVID pandemic its first priority. (Image credit: The 19th)

Kate Bedingfield: Pandemic is First Priority

Communications Director Kate Bedingfield said that the country’s new leadership is putting the pandemic as the number one priority, with the goal of showing that the Biden-Harris administration is “using every tool available to make progress on containing the virus.”

Integral to this first priority, said Bedingfield, is “restoring faith in science, and that government response is being driven by science.” She described the Trump response to COVID as “haphazard” and spoke of the “huge logistical undertaking” of providing the COVID vaccine. She described the new administration’s approach as one that is “a whole government, aggressive approach.”

“It’s one thing that the federal government can be a large driver on,” said Bedingfield.

Karine Jean-Pierre on New Administration Addressing Racial Inequality

Karine Jean-Pierre, Principal Deputy Press Secretary, shared about how the Biden administration is Biden openly discussing the problem of racial inequality, particularly in the context of COVID. She summarized the President’s perspective about this as seeing inequality as central to the problem of COVID. “We have to do this in a holistic way and in a big way,” said Jean-Pierre.

Jean-Pierre said the communications team “will be talking more about the specifics over the next couple of weeks” with regard to how to proceed with addressing racial inequality. “It’s going to take some time,” she said. “You’ve got to begin. It’s going to start from the federal government, they’re going to show leadership […] and hopefully it will permeate down.”

Symone Sanders spoke about the goals of the new administration’s communication team: to communicate early and often, be transparent, and be accountable. (Image credit: The 19th)

Symone Sanders: Relief Cannot Come Soon Enough

Symone Sanders said the new government would be rolling out two packages to the American people: a rescue plan, and a recovery package. “Relief cannot come soon enough for this country,” said Sanders, noting that many people are suffering from food insecurity and other extreme effects due to the COVID economy.

Sanders described the mindset of the White House comms team as having three goals: to communicate early and often, to be transparent, and to be accountable. She also stressed that “Science is so critical to how this administration will operate.”

Sanders shared a little-known fact about how closely our new Presidential leaders are connected to leaders in science. She noted that Kamala Harris’s mother “was a breast cancer researcher and an advisor to the NIH (National Institute of Health). NIH was instrumental to putting out the vaccine.”

“I think the science is so important to them, because we have experienced an administration that did not center the science, the facts, and the advice of experts,” said Sanders.

Biden Harris Working As Partnership

The communications team also discussed how President Biden and Vice President Harris will having a partnership when it comes to working, and that the team will be showing different aspects of how that partnership works, with Harris leading communication on some issues and working to amplify Biden’s messages on others. The coordinated media strategy will put each of the members of the partnership forward, depending on their strengths, expertise, and the different audiences they can each reach.

Full video is available HERE 

Related:

Media Gap on Women and Politics: The 19th Steps In

What Kamala Harris Represents for Donor Activism and Inclusion

Liveblog: Women in Media Changing the Game

Kiersten Marek

Author: Kiersten Marek

Kiersten Marek, LICSW, is the founder of Philanthropy Women. She practices clinical social work in Cranston, Rhode Island, and writes about how women donors and their allies are advancing social change.

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