(CNN Business)A version of this article first appeared in the “Reliable Sources” newsletter. You can sign up for free right here.
While President Trump is obstructing the transition of power, his administration is obstructing the free flow of information. From the WH to the Pentagon to the State Department to the GSA, officials are dodging questions from the press corps. It is the ultimate show of weakness by Trump. And it is happening as he stares down defeat. In the words of the NYT, this is “a moment of truth for the Republican Party: The country is on a knife’s edge, with GOP officials from state capitols to Congress choosing between the will of voters and the will of one man.”
President-elect Joe Biden, meanwhile, is filling the void. The Biden transition team is making news on an almost hourly basis. Trump suddenly has to adjust to the new norm: He’s just a secondary story.
Reports are flying about Biden’s picks, as some Cabinet appointments are expected on Tuesday. Antony Blinken is poised to be nominated as Secretary of State, per CNN’s team. Some press shop announcements are also expected soon. As CNN’s Jeff Zeleny reported, Biden “has expedited the selection of his Cabinet” as part of a “concerted effort to show that he is moving forward” despite Trump’s sabotage efforts.
Driving Sunday’s news cycle
Reps from the Biden team were on all five of the biggest Sunday TV shows this A.M. Ron Klain was on “This Week,” Jen Psaki was on “SOTU,” Symone Sanders was on “Face The Nation,” Cedric Richmond was on “Meet the Press,” and Kate Bedingfield was on “Fox News Sunday.”
This didn’t happen by accident — according to a Biden transition official, it was a conscious choice to show that the transition is moving forward and that the Biden team is accessible to the media. The interview bookings also created a contrast with the Trump White House and the Trump legal team, since there were ZERO Trump reps made available for any of the shows.
“There’s a new sheriff in town,” a the Biden official remarked to me Sunday morning. “The White House is basically admitting defeat by not even showing up to defend their absurd position.”
Monday’s on-camera event
Via CNN’s Arlette Saenz: “President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will hold a virtual meeting with the U.S. Conference of Mayors on Monday, the transition announced Sunday. This will follow Biden’s virtual meeting with a group of bipartisan governors last week.” The meeting will be open to cameras.
What reporters want from the Biden camp
At the top of the list: Daily press briefings with transition officials. Continued on-camera events with the principals. And hopefully no repeat of what happened on Saturday, when Biden’s “protective press pool” was left behind when Biden went to Saturday mass. While it was just a brief snafu, not an intentional snub, it still provoked criticism from the head of the WHCA and from other members of the media. There was a similar kerfuffle with Trump when he was president-elect.
For the record
— Stephen Fowler of Georgia Public Broadcasting spoke for many reporters when he said on Sunday night, “Looking forward to the day I can focus solely on the *next* election instead of the one 3 weeks ago!” (Twitter)
— WaPo’s lead story in print on Monday: “More in GOP push for handoff.”
— Shot: “Trump and his allies have targeted heavily Black cities, painting them as corrupt and trying to throw out huge numbers of votes” (NYT)
— Chaser: “Anger builds in Black community over Trump’s claims of voter fraud in big cities” (WaPo)
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