The exodus of staff from the White House continued this week amid reports that President Joe Biden is frustrated that his message is not getting out — and at one point reportedly reminded people around him that he’s still the president.
White House Rapid Response Director Mike Gwin and White House press assistant Michael Kikukawa are both leaving to serve in public affairs at the U.S. Treasury, which is having its own problem in explaining soaring inflation.
“On a sad note, our dear friend and colleague Michael Gwin will be leaving us for Treasury, where he will serve as deputy assistant secretary for Public Affairs,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre announced. “Gwin has served as the White House director of Rapid Response for the past 16 months, responding to the most challenging and difficult issues imaginable. Yet amidst these often emotionally wrenching stories, Gwin’s poise and moral clarity are unfailing, and his willingness and ability to step up has made him an indispensable member of the team.”
Biden lost his main spokesperson, Jen Psaki, last month when she departed for a job at MSNBC. The White House last week also announced that assistant press secretary Vedant Patel is moving to the State Department press office and the White House’s press office chief of staff Amanda Finney is moving to the Energy Department.
The sudden departure of a slew of press staffers comes after three reports by mainstream media outlets cataloged dysfunction and turmoil in the White House.
NBC News posted a piece last week headlined, “Inside a Biden White House adrift,” which said, “Amid a rolling series of calamities and sinking approval ratings, the president’s feeling lately is that he just can’t catch a break — and that angst is rippling through his party.”
“Faced with a worsening political predicament, President Joe Biden is pressing aides for a more compelling message and a sharper strategy while bristling at how they’ve tried to stifle the plain-speaking persona that has long been one of his most potent assets,” NBC News wrote. “Biden is rattled by his sinking approval ratings and is looking to regain voters’ confidence that he can provide the sure-handed leadership he promised during the campaign, people close to the president say.”
The Washington Post piled on with a piece headlined, “White House scrambles on inflation after Biden complains to aides,” which said Biden “fumes privately that administration isn’t doing enough to show concern on high prices.”
“The White House launched a new push Tuesday to contain the political damage caused by inflation after President Biden complained for weeks to aides that his administration was not doing enough to publicly explain the fastest price increases in roughly four decades,” the Post wrote.
Biden has gone so far as “reminding his staff that he’s the one who is president,” NBC wrote.
Joseph Curl has covered politics for 35 years, including 12 years as White House correspondent for a national newspaper. He was also the a.m. editor of the Drudge Report for four years. Send tips to firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @josephcurl.