Biden's White House: TikTok Influencers May Get Own Briefing Room to Shore Up 2024 Youth Vote


Actor Steve Buscemi has delivered more lines on screen than anyone can count in a career that goes back to the 1980s. However, it’s one line delivered during a short guest appearance on “30 Rock” that will likely go down as his most famous.

“How do you do, fellow kids?”

For those not familiar — in the episode, Buscemi played a cop, one who had previously been part of “a special task force of very young-looking cops who infiltrated high schools.” The joke was that 1) this was a play on the plot of Fox’s absurd 1980s show “21 Jump Street” and 2) Buscemi has never looked very young, probably not even when he was very young.

This was the result, now a meme that gets trotted out whenever older generations try, quite unsuccessfully, to Relate To The Kids™:

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Pretty soon, if an Axios report is accurate, it might be Karine Jean-Pierre saying those words.

On Sunday, the outlet reported “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.”

“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,” Axios’ Sophia Cai reported.

I don’t know what the best laugh-line is from those first two paragraphs, from the idea of TikTok influencers getting a briefing room at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. to the idea that Trump — who is in de facto social media quarantine on his own Truth Social platform — has any kind of clout left in the rest of the social media world.

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The idea is to reach “those who may not follow the White House or Democratic Party on social media — or who have tuned out mainstream media altogether,” Axios reported. I’m not sure how the three are any different, but it’s the same turn-out-the-low-information-youth-voter nonsense that’s been going on since time immemorial, since MTV’s “Rock the Vote” in the 1990s or Sean “Diddy” Combs’ much-lampooned “Vote or Die” campaign in the 2004 election.

The difference is that even President Bill Clinton — willing to go on MTV and answer whether he wore boxers or briefs — wasn’t going to give Stone Temple Pilots or Dr. Dre a briefing room at the White House.

Not only is that apparently an option, according to the Axios report, but the guy leading the influencer project — Rob Flaherty, now an assistant to the president — is being given the same rank as press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and communications director Ben LaBolt.

Among the “[h]undreds of (unpaid and like-minded) content creators” that Axios said are currently working with the White House as information mouthpieces are TikTokkers Harry Sisson, a 20-year-old college student who puts out a short daily newscast, and former trader Vivian Tu, who vlogs on financial matters.

The other influencer mentioned is slightly more accredited: Substacker and Boston College professor Heather Cox Richardson.

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“We actually asked the White House, ‘When are we going to get press briefing passes?'” said Sisson, who has nearly 700,000 followers on the Chinese-owned social media platform. He was apparently one of roughly two dozen social media influencers invited to the White House for a State of the Union watch party.

“They were actually were very responsive to [the suggestion],” he said.

Nor is this the first time that the administration has gone to the “how do you do, fellow kids?” well. In March of 2022, The Washington Post reported that the Biden administration took time out to brief 30 TikTok influencers on the war in Ukraine.

Before that, meanwhile, the White House lent the grounds and then-press secretary Jen Psaki to TikTokker “Benny Drama” (driver’s license name: Benito Skinner) for this hee-larious sketch:

This is of a different scale, however. Not only are they enlisting low-information influencers on one of the lowest-information media platforms ever created to reach low-information voters for 2024, but they are also potentially giving them and other social media stars a briefing room — almost a parallel press room, except where simpatico voices are given marching orders which they repeat in slightly altered fashion when they take to the platform of their choice.

Or, as Jen O’Malley Dillon, White House deputy chief of staff, told Axios, “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.”

All of this to prop up a now-80-year-old president who, if he serves out an entire second term, would leave the White House at 86. And he’s not a low-mileage 80, either.

Give Benny Drama and his cadre of low-attention-span Gen Z creators their own press briefing room, that still doesn’t wallpaper over four years of clips like that combined with a floundering economy, a war in Ukraine that’s taken us closer to nuclear conflict than any time since the Berlin Wall fell, and runaway debt that the people watching these dopamine hits of straight-up propaganda will eventually have to pay for.

How do you do, fellow kids? Let old Uncle Joe tell you how he’s going to keep shafting you for four more years.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture