Two-thirds of Biden’s press shop have left in the spaces of weeks
May and June have seen an extraordinary accumulation of departures from the White House press shop — as President Joe Biden tries to reformulate his message with road trips amid declining approval ratings.
The quarters have come up and down the ladder among people tasked with pitching Biden’s policies, coordinating the covid response and handling the mechanics of the president’s mobile messaging operation.
New White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre shed light on the turnover in comments at the White House this week — when she took the stage again to publicly praise the well-known outgoing mid-level executives.
“I promise we’ll have a press shop.” She joked. “Not everyone leaves.”
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre has announced a series of employee departures in recent weeks
Part of the turnover coincided with the departure of Jean-Pierre’s predecessor, Jen Psaki.
Some departures amount to a substantial increase — even if the aides soon miss some of the thrill of being in the presidential bubble.
Jean-Pierre broke the latest personnel news on a “sad note,” announcing that Mike Gwin, the White House rapid response director, was on his way out the door to join the Treasury Department. She called him an “indispensable” part of the team.
“I know he’s moving on to bigger and better things, and I only wish him the best at Treasury,” she said.
Staff departures announced since Jen Psaki’s departure on May 13
Amanda Finney, chief of staff at President Biden’s news agency, June 3
Vedant Patel, Assistant White House Press Secretary, June 2
Michael Gwin, Director of Rapid Response at the White House, June 7
Michael Kikukawa, Press Assistant, June 7
She also noted that Michael Kikukawa will leave the White House press shop as a press assistant to serve as a spokesperson at Treasury. She praised him as “the strong engine and reliable engine in the press shop,” pointing out his “ruthless work ethic and dedication to this team’s mission were unparalleled” — a role he played at times for pastoral reporters to the president.
Jean-Pierre called it “very heartbreaking, but I am very excited for both of you.”
Days earlier, she announced that Vedant Patel, who had just returned from the president’s trip to South Korea and Japan, would leave to become a deputy spokesperson at the State Department.
“I cannot emphasize enough how integral Vedant has been to our team. He’s been a rock star. He will be incredibly missed. He is a real talent, an excellent communicator, a gifted writer and a wonderful colleague and friend,” she said.
“Me and the rest of the press team will miss him very much, but we know he’s going to do better and bigger things now that he’s going to the State Department – so he won’t go as far – as the deputy chief spokesperson,” she said. . †
On June 2, Jean-Pierre sang the praises of another outgoing staffer, Amanda Finney, whom she hailed as the unofficial “Mayor of the West Wing.” She announced that Finney was leaving to join the Energy Department, where she will become deputy director of public affairs.
Former White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki Leaves and Takes a Job at MSNBC
The departure comes as Biden struggles to reframe his posts
White House departure has grown to two-thirds of the press shop, according to AP . count
The turmoil at the White House follows a steady departure of aides to Vice President Kamala Harris, plus whining about a “Blaxit” of departing African-American staffers, with a tally of departing African-American staffers reaching 20 as of late 2021.
More than a dozen top executives leave Harris’s office amid complaints about tensions between the various offices. They started with the departures of high-profile figures, including senior advisor Symone Sanders.
The White House departure has grown to two-thirds of the press store, as has a significant departure from the White House’s COVID response team, as well as digital staffers, the Associated Press reported.
That account placed the departure in the context of the “great layoff,” with people across the economy finding new things to do since the pandemic hit.
President Biden’s news agency chief of staff Amanda Finney (pictured) leaves the west wing amid reports of an ‘exodus of black staffers’ from the White House
White House jobs have long been prestigious and provide opportunities for other government or private sector employment.
Average salaries in the president’s executive office are more than $90,000, but lower-level press officers often earn less, work extremely long hours, and scroll through their cell phones late into the night.
Some of the perks of the job — facetime with the president, access to VIP events, watching Marine One take off — have been scaled back during the pandemic.
Assistants who have access to the president are restricted and are usually masked.
It’s not uncommon for a White House staffer to experience a wave of attrition after a year or 18 months, though this latest departure coincides with Psaki’s departure and the decision to take a job at MSNBC.