US President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on November 29 announced an all-women team of the White House staff to serve in senior communication roles. Biden’s office claims that this will be the first time the communications positions will be filled entirely by women.
“I am proud to announce today the first senior White House communications team comprised entirely of women. These qualified, experienced communicators bring diverse perspectives to their work and a shared commitment to building this country back better,” Biden was quoted as saying in a press release.
After delaying the presidential transition process, the Trump administration finally approved it last week, with the head of the General Services Administration informing Biden the process could begin.
Since then, Biden has made a few appointments, including that of former Secretary of State John Kerry as his climate envoy and of former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen as the Treasury Secretary.
What is the significance of this announcement?
Biden’s office claims that the move to appoint an all-women senior media team shows Biden’s continued commitment to building an administration that “looks like America”. Four of the seven appointments are women of colour. Harris has called the team “barrier shattering”.
Jen Psaki, who has been appointed the White House Press Secretary, said on Twitter, “This is a team of some of the most talented, battle-tested communicators out there @KBeds, @K_JeanPierre, @SymoneDSanders, @AshleyEtienne09 @EAlexander, @pilitobar87—who are also all women, most diverse team in history and also 6 Moms of young kids.”
As per a report published by the White House Transition Project, the four main roles of a White House Press Secretary include information conduit, constituent representation, administration and communications planning. “As the official spokesperson for an administration, he or she is the person who presents Presidential information to many audiences, including the public, his special publics in Washington, and governments of nations around the globe. People look to the President for comment and it is the Press Secretary who most often presents it,” the report says.
Essentially, the government’s press officials are tasked with collecting as much information as possible and delivering it to the public –– therefore, their role is significant in establishing clear communication channels between the public and the government.
These communication channels are not standard and keep changing depending on the administration. For instance, under the Trump administration, his communications team held fewer press briefings, “and those that did occur were often combative affairs riddled with inaccuracies and falsehoods,” a report in the Associated Press noted. 📣 Express Explained is now on Telegram
Also in Explained | Who are the women joining the Biden administration?