White House’s Psaki basks in adulation from ‘social media stars’ at virtual briefing but viewers fail to tune in
Having social media influencers attend a virtual ‘briefing’ with White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki may have sounded like a good idea to someone in the Biden administration, but the public seemed to be ‘meh’ about it.
Scheduled for Friday afternoon, known in Washington as “take out the trash day,” the event started about 20 minutes late and ran for less than 40 minutes.
Though the White House YouTube channel boasts nearly two million subscribers and Biden famously officially won the most votes ever in US history, fewer than 15,000 people tuned into Psaki’s gimmick briefing.
Social Media Briefing with Jen Psaki kicks off 20 minutes late with 1,086 viewers pic.twitter.com/5nLofyRllH— Charlie Spiering (@charliespiering) June 4, 2021
It got less than 400 likes and over 2,300 dislikes at the time of writing; it was unclear if YouTube intervened to throttle the latter. As usual, comments were turned off.
By contrast, Biden’s guest appearance on the outdoor adventure channel Brave Wilderness last month – part of an effort to push Covid-19 vaccination – got nearly 900,000 views, though its 36,000 dislikes still outnumbered the 26,000 likes.
Only 250 likes and 1,249 viewers on Jenny’s social media briefing, that is currently live on the White House official YouTube page. pic.twitter.com/62IYV8866z— I ain’t no circle back girl (@cohkohhh) June 4, 2021
The event featured such hard-hitting journalism as asking Psaki if she’d ever come “into contact” with singer Lady Gaga, who performed at Joe Biden’s inauguration.
The answer, in case you wanted to know, is no – but Psaki did say she “blasts” her music in the car sometimes.
While it didn’t seem to have made much of a splash on social media, Psaki’s event did prompt some ribbing from the online opposition. Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro mocked the “very, very serious administration,” while classical liberal Dave Rubin said he would’ have brought cookies had he been invited – a reference to Psaki’s treats to the White House press corps recently.
Wait, why weren’t we invited? I would’ve brought cookies!— Dave Rubin (@RubinReport) June 4, 2021
VICE writer Ashwin Rodrigues, in what was presumably a joke, asked if anyone “recorded” Psaki’s briefing with the “internet stars” because he “skipped the birth of my child to watch” but lost internet connection.
PLEASE tell me someone recorded the White House Social Media Briefing (the one where Jen Psaki and the Internet Stars got together.) I skipped the birth of my child to watch but I lost internet.— Ashwin Rodrigues (@shwinyo) June 4, 2021
While Psaki has been popular among the online Democrats, her guests may not have had as much star power as the White House had hoped. Many of the online reactions amounted to “who are these people?” with the most famous being Jonathan and Drew Scott of the ‘Property Brothers’ reality-TV show.
The VICE-owned Refinery29 stepped in with a helpful explainer, naming comedian Benito Skinner, aka Benny Drama; lifestyle blogger Brittany Xavier; DJ Hannah Bronfman; home organizers Clea Shearer and Joanna Teplin, and Curly Velasquez of BuzzFeed.
TODAY: @BuzzFeed's @CurlyVee joins The @WhiteHouse's first-ever social media briefing led by @PressSec @jrpsaki.— BuzzFeed PR (@BuzzFeedPR) June 4, 2021
Tune in at 3:30pm ET to see Curly and other influencers ask about today's jobs report, the economy and more. https://t.co/P8DNRyH3y3 pic.twitter.com/D420ZfSFHl
“If you're confused about how the Property Brothers or American DJ Hannah Bronfman got lumped into the category of ‘internet stars,’ so are we,” they wrote. “If you're equally confused about why this group of influencers is joining a briefing with the White House about jobs, the economy, and what the future looks like for American families, we're right there with you.”
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