Pence secretly meeting with right-wing media personalities on how to spin Trump’s virus crisis: report
As part of his duties overseeing the task force in charges of dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, Vice President Mike Pence has been holding secret meetings with prominent right-wing “influencers” on how to spin Donald Trump’s administration’s efforts to contain the growing health crisis.
According to a report from the Daily Beast, the outreach began at the annual CPAC conference long before the administration had any idea what they were dealing with, the report notes.
“The direct outreach occurred on Thursday, Feb. 27—the day after Trump tapped Pence to lead the task force. There, the vice president hosted an informal briefing on COVID-19 and the administration’s latest efforts, with several right-leaning personalities with large followings on Twitter and other social media platforms, according to a source with direct knowledge of the gathering,” the Beast reports, adding, “The following Wednesday, Pence hosted another closed-door meeting with conservative ‘influencers,’ with this one lasting for roughly an hour in the vice president’s office on White House grounds.”
Among those Vice President Pence has been reaching out to are “Fox New fixture and prolific MAGA tweeter Dan Bongino; former Trump adviser and current “War Room: 2020” podcast host Jason Miller; Newsmax TV host and Trump’s former press secretary Sean Spicer; former White House official and Sinclair ‘must-run’ commentator Boris Epshteyn; Sinclair anchor and ex-Fox News host Eric Bolling; and former Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA), a Trump surrogate.”
The report notes that the outreach illustrates that White House knows it has a public relations problem of epic proportions on its hands and needs all Trump-supporting hands on deck, who are being used to praise the president while at the same time lashing out the media for their coverage of the administration’s failures.
“For weeks the Trump administration’s coronavirus task force has struggled to maintain continuity in messaging, with different departments seemingly operating off of different scripts and with different ideas about how to disseminate information to the public. Part of that tension is internal, with a White House and a president having been desperate to calm the markets at a time when state governments are calling for help amid rising death tolls,” the report continued. “Through it all, the vice president’s office, and communications teams on the task force, have tried to minimize the noise, calm Americans, and relentlessly lauded the president’s response to the outbreak in the U.S. The efforts to loop in conservative influencers has been seen as a way to maneuver beyond the regular briefings to the White House press corps and reach a different and more sympathetic media cohort. “
Defending the meetings, Pence chief of staff Marc Short described their efforts by stating, “The vice president has said that he wants to get as much information out to the American people as possible… There are a lot of different channels of communication. It’s not just press briefings every day, it’s not just TV interviews… There’s a whole lot of different streams of information. And one of those is surrogates.”
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