His staff’s response is effectively to try to save Biden from himself. During the Virginia trip reporters were hustled out of retail campaign stops in diners and other intimate settings, aides tried to edit media pool reports for any potential landmines that could be seized on by Republicans and even hovered at close range to eavesdrop on journalists’ conversations with attendees at Biden rallies.
What’s perhaps most striking about the Biden staff’s attempts at press management is its effort to influence what goes in the pool reports from his off-schedule stops. Because the entire press corps cannot easily jam in, say, a diner or private home, it is standard practice to have a single designated reporter take notes and share the material with colleagues from other news organizations. These reports are designed entirely for the media, but are distributed by White House staffers. In the case of Obama, as with his predecessors, the reports are simply forwarded without comment by email to a news media distribution list.
But on two occasions during Biden’s Virginia trip, his staff sought to have certain elements in the reports highlighted while reporters drafted them and discussed the contents with the reporters after the summaries had been sent but before they had before sent to the broader media.
Staffers spinning reporters to frame events the best they can is, of course, commonplace in politics. But attempting to intervene in the drafting of accounts that reporters share with one another is all but unheard of and reflects the deep concern Biden’s team has about offering any fodder to the opposition.
On “Daily Rundown” Chuck Todd, Chris Cillizza, and Jonathan Martin discuss how VP Biden’s staff are working hard to keep Biden from hurting himself on the campaign trail.