White House Press Office Exodus Continues With Departure Of Rapid Response Director
It's been a tumultuous spring for the White House press office.
First came the news that Amanda Finney, known informally as the “mayor of the West Wing,” was heading to a post with the Department of Energy as deputy director of public affairs. Then, on the heels of President Joe Biden's trip to Japan and South Korea, it was revealed that assistant press secretary Vedant Patel had accepted a job as deputy spokesperson at the State Department.
This week, it was the turn of White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre once again to confirm additional departures. Rapid Response Director Michael Gin is headed to the Treasury Department, as is press assistant Michael Kikuawa.
The media is debating whether these latest departures are routine, as the Biden administration is claiming, or are linked to recent reports of turmoil in the West Wing and generally negative approval ratings for the president. The executive positions in question pay upwards of $90,000 a year, while assistants make substantially less.
As the Daily Mail notes, it's not unusual for there to be large turnover in White House staff after a year or 18 months of an administration. It may be more a matter of people choosing to move on because of the shift in culture brought about by the departure of Jen Psaki for MSNBC, where she will begin hosting a program this fall.
AP writer Zeke Miller has an astute take, writing under the June 9 headline “'Great Resignation' Reaches White House With Staff Turnover.” He notes that in addition to two-thirds of the press shop, departures of late have also encompassed much of the COVID-19 response team, a pair of deputy counsels to the president and the staffer who manages the White House Twitter account.
Miller notes that this turnover pales in comparison to what was going on, at the same time, during the Trump administration. The other government wings to which the press office people are headed can often double salaries and reduce workloads.