President Biden’s and Vice President Harris’ respective comms staffs have suffered a wave of departures over the last year, including among senior-level members. Though anonymous sources have said in media interviews that this is just part of the “normal” turnaround process for White House staffers, others have suggested the real reasons are burnout, incompatibility issues and/or personality conflicts with their colleagues, and worse – a seeming lack of concern from their bosses about coherent messaging strategies as they head into the 2022 midterm elections campaign season.
One Democratic strategist in comments made to The Hill was even more to the point about Biden’s messaging strategy in particular: “His messaging has been terrible. It’s bad. There’s no way around it.”
The latest member of Team Biden/Harris to announce she’s headed for the exits is Biden’s senior-most comms person Kate Bedingfield, his communications director. Though she hasn’t put out an official statement yet, numerous reports say Bedingfield has told several people within her inner circle that she’s on her way out:
POLITICO was told by a top administration official that Bedingfield has started informing her colleagues about her departure.
Her exit comes on the heels of Jen Psaki’s decision to step down as press secretary and during a period of internal uncertainty over the structure and makeup of the White House’s larger press operations. Psaki was not alone. A number of lower- and middle-ranking press aides also left the White House in the last two months.
Democrats have grown openly critical of the Biden team’s communications strategy in recent weeks and months. Anita Dunn (a former Biden advisor) recently returned as a senior adviser to the White House and worked to improve the operation.
The news of Bedingfield’s departure also comes just four months after reports swirled about how the Biden comms team and the Harris comms team were allegedly at odds with each other, with Biden’s people reportedly frustrated at the veep’s inability to appropriately handle the tasks given to her by Joe Biden, and the Harris camp’s belief being that Biden’s staff relishes pinning his multitude of failures on her.
Biting comments Bedingfield was said to have made in private about Harris’s complaints only further spiked the already-brewing tensions between the two camps:
— Harris allies complained throughout the first year of the administration that she was handed an impossible portfolio. According to the book, KATE BEDINGFIELD, Biden’s comms director, not only grew tired of the criticism that the White House was mismanaging Harris — she blamed the VP.
“In private, Bedingfield had taken to noting that the vice presidency was not the first time in Harris’s political career that she had fallen short of sky-high expectations: Her Senate office had been messy and her presidential campaign had been a fiasco. Perhaps, she suggested, the problem was not the vice president’s staff,” Martin and Burns write.
Twitter users noted that Bedingfield is not only avoiding the red tsunami predicted for November at the poll box, but are also able to answer questions regarding a statement she made just a month before 2020.
I don’t believe that Kate Bedingfield was ever asked about her October 2020 contention that the Hunter Biden laptop stories were amplifying Russian misinformation. https://t.co/2zoGlACBpo
— Jerry Dunleavy (@JerryDunleavy) July 6, 2022
Perhaps the opportunity to ask her will present itself one day since according to the Wall Street Journal, “Ms. Bedingfield is expected to depart the White House in late July and ‘help support the president and administration from the outside,’ a White House official said.”
Stay tuned, as always.
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