Claim: The Washington Post suggests Joe Biden’s administration will be the first to have an “all-female senior communications team.”
Verdict: False. As many have noted, President Donald Trump has appointed several women to such high-ranking positions throughout his tenure.
On Sunday, the Post reported Biden would tap Jen Psaki (pictured), a former Obama-era communications director, to serve as his White House press secretary. Paski’s appointment was announced with news Kate Bedingfield, who served as the former vice president’s deputy campaign manager, would be joining the White House as director of communications.
Joining Psaki and Bedingfield, will be Karine Jean-Pierre and Pili Tobar, respectively. Jean-Pierre, a onetime MSNBC analyst who is currently a senior adviser to the progressive group MoveOn, will serve as principal deputy press secretary under Psaki. Tobar, meanwhile, will serve as deputy communications director.
Throughout the 2020 race, Tobar was the Biden campaign’s director of coalitions.
Similarly, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’ communications staff will be led by women. Ashley Etienne, a former senior adviser to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), will serve as Harris’ communications director, while Symone Sanders, a top aide on Biden’s campaign, will serve as chief spokesperson.
In reporting the appointments, the Post claimed Biden’s White House would be the “first time all of the top aides tasked with speaking on behalf of an administration and shaping its message will be female.”
That characterization was quickly challenged. Shortly after the Post’s story was published, many took to social media to lambast the paper for praising Biden’s appointments, while ignoring similar ones made by Trump.
President @realDonaldTrump already has an ALL FEMALE Senior White House Press Team.
So does @VP…
So does @FLOTUS…
So does @SecondLady…
— Kayleigh McEnany (@kayleighmcenany) November 30, 2020
Throughout much of Trump’s tenure in office, the president’s communications infrastructure has been helmed by women. Most notably, three of the four individuals to serve as White House press secretary under Trump, including Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Kayleigh McEnany–the current holder of the office.
Likewise, both Stephanie Grisham and Hope Hicks served as White House communications directors. The position currently remains vacant after its last occupant, Grisham, left in April 2020 to become chief of staff to the First Lady.
White House Press Sec. Stephanie Grisham: “The resolution put forward by Speaker Pelosi confirms that House Democrats’ impeachment has been an illegitimate sham from the start as it lacked any proper authorization by a House vote.” https://t.co/BN0saSafr0
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) October 30, 2019
When it comes to the positions of deputy communications director and deputy white press secretary, Trump’s incumbents are both men.
The president, though, has entrusted a number of duties that belonged to both roles in prior administrations to the somewhat new office of White House director of strategic communications. Since creating the position in January 2017, Trump has appointed only women to the role, including Hicks and Mercedes Schlapp.
The office’s current holder is Alyssa Farah, who previously served as press secretary to Vice President Mike Pence.