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Biden’s Low-Key Media Strategy Draws Allies’ Concern – The New York Times

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So far in his tenure, the president has given far fewer one-on-one interviews than his two predecessors. Some Democrats are asking if he could be making better use of his White House pulpit.

As president, Donald J. Trump was a media maximalist whose unavoidable-for-comment style helped generate saturation news coverage, for better or worse.

President Biden has taken a stingier approach to his dealings with the press — and not all his allies believe it’s working out.

After nine months in office, Mr. Biden has conducted roughly a dozen one-on-one interviews with major print and television news outlets. That compares with more than 50 for Mr. Trump, and more than 100 for Barack Obama, in the same period, according to West Wing record keepers.

If the pulpit is one of a president’s most powerful tools of communication, Mr. Biden has opted to rely more heavily on fleeting, impromptu exchanges with White House reporters, often taking a few shouted questions as he boards a helicopter or exits a photo-op. He has not sat for interviews with The Associated Press, The New York Times, Reuters, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal or USA Today. Even friendly venues like “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” have gone unvisited.

It’s a Rose Garden strategy in decidedly un-rosy times. As Mr. Biden’s approval ratings have sagged in recent weeks, and his party confronts a tough outlook for next year’s midterm elections, some Democrats have asked if the president has yielded too much control of the public narrative of his administration to others.

“What I believe in is sell, sell, sell,” James Carville, the veteran Democratic strategist, said in an interview. “What they’re missing is salesmanship. Everybody wants to be a policy maven, and no one wants to go door to door and sell pots and pans.”

Mr. Carville expressed concern about a poll last month showing roughly 7 in 10 Americans knew “just some or little to nothing” about the president’s signature domestic policy plans. The leader of the House Democrats’ campaign arm, Representative Sean Patrick Maloney of New York, recently criticized the White House for “not getting the job done on messaging.”

Luke Sharrett/The New York Times

Free Joe Biden,” Mr. Maloney said, urging the president “to get himself out there.”

White House aides reject the idea that Mr. Biden is avoiding the spotlight. Jen Psaki, Mr. Biden’s press secretary, noted that on a day-to-day basis, the president has entertained informal questions from White House reporters more often than either Mr. Trump or Mr. Obama in their early tenures (although these exchanges, and his answers, tend to be brief).

“Taking 30 questions from the national press in a week, or over the course of 10 days or two weeks, is an opportunity for the national press corps to ask him tough questions and do follow-ups,” Ms. Psaki said in an interview. “He fully expects it and he engages in it.”

And after months of negotiations in Congress leading up to passage of the newly signed public works bill, Ms. Psaki said the president was now “in the early stages of a massive selling plan across the country.” Last week, he visited a General Motors plant in Detroit, where he zipped around in an electric S.U.V. — “That Hummer is one hell of a vehicle, man,” the president remarked — and toured a dilapidated bridge in Woodstock, N.H. On Monday last week, he presided over a pomp-filled signing ceremony on the White House lawn that was carried live on national TV.

Whether these efforts are coming too late is an open question. One recent poll showed a declining number of Democrats with favorable views of Mr. Biden’s job performance. The president’s social safety net and climate bill passed the House, but now faces an arduous path in the Senate. The danger, journalists and media strategists say, is that Mr. Biden has allowed his opponents too much room to set the terms of debate.

“The first impression of these packages was framed already by the Republicans,” said Kurt Bardella, an adviser to the Democratic Party. “Now that we see more activity from the White House, they’re coming up against a narrative that was painted by other people, and it becomes a little bit more challenging to stem that tide.”

Doug Mills/The New York Times

Scott McClellan, who served as press secretary to former President George W. Bush, said that presidents “can be overly cautious to your own detriment at times.”

“There are risks, and certainly Biden has a history of sometimes going off-script and off-the-cuff, and message discipline is really critical at a time like this,” Mr. McClellan said. “But those high-profile interviews give you the opportunity to really get across key points that you want to make, that are important in building public support.”

Ms. Psaki said concerns that Democrats have already lost the framing battle “sounds awfully defeatist to me,” pointing to polls showing that the underlying policies of Mr. Biden’s legislative agenda remain broadly popular.

Mr. Biden’s messaging team also prides itself on adapting the traditional White House media playbook to a new age of microscopic attention spans and 24/7 social media, where politicians are as likely to shape public perception with a TikTok video than a sit-down with a baritone-voiced news anchor. The Biden digital campaign has featured cameos from YouTube stars and celebrities like Olivia Rodrigo and Ciara. “We want to meet people where they are in 2021,” Ms. Psaki said.

Still, there are moments where Mr. Biden seems to have set aside some of the unique advantages of his office.

Last week’s bill-signing ceremony at the White House began at 3 p.m., a contrast from Mr. Trump’s inclination to hold major events, like the naming of a Supreme Court nominee, in the evening to capture prime-time levels of viewership. Those events were criticized as reality-show-style stunts, but they usually proved effective in dictating the national news cycle.

“Every network would give him time if he asked for it,” Mr. Bardella said, speaking of Mr. Biden. “He needs to use the trappings of the presidency.”

The president has sat for a few major televised interviews with anchors from CBS, NBC, and ABC (twice). He also enjoys venues where he can answer questions from voters rather than reporters, appearing on three prime-time town halls on CNN. But his most recent CNN appearance, with Anderson Cooper in October, required some cleanup: His remarks suggesting muscular American support of Taiwan against a Chinese attack had to be clarified later by his press team.

The viewership for the October town hall on CNN also left something to be desired — a point in favor of the White House’s argument that traditional media simply matters less these days. The 90-minute event attracted fewer viewers than simultaneous programming on MSNBC, and Fox News’s hosts Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity were seen by more than double Mr. Biden’s audience that night.

Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

“I suspect that they are of the understandable view of, ‘What difference does it make?’” Mr. Carville said of the Biden team’s cautious approach. “‘Why do I have to sit there and be interrogated for 20 minutes when all I can do is make a mistake, and I can’t move a Popsicle in terms of poll numbers?’”

How a president meets the media is just as often determined by personality as politics.

Mr. Obama was less enthused about facing gaggles of reporters, preferring one-on-ones where he could sidestep “topic of the day” lightning rounds and delve into a subject of his choice. Mr. Trump relished his jousts with journalists, even as he vilified the news media in increasingly menacing ways.

There is little doubt that Mr. Biden takes a brighter view than his predecessor of the news media and its role in the democratic process. Mr. Trump revoked White House press passes, labeled the media as the “enemy of the people” and increasingly restricted his appearances to Fox News opinion shows and other sympathetic stages. His administration also withheld press briefings for months on end. By contrast, Ms. Psaki holds extensive briefings nearly every day.

Still, Mr. Biden — who built his appeal on a colloquial, off-the-cuff style that leaves him vulnerable to gaffes — has never been especially chatty with reporters. One of his key advisers, Anita Dunn, was opposed to Mr. Biden regularly opening himself up to queries, an exercise that Ms. Dunn believed offered little upside and lots of downside.

Mr. Biden’s reluctant media habits set off a minor revolt from his press corps last week: After he broke precedent by skipping a news conference with the leaders of Canada and Mexico, the White House Correspondents’ Association formally complained. “Is the worry that you don’t want the president taking questions?” one reporter asked a Biden press aide. (Reply: “The president often takes questions throughout the course of the day.”)

“A calculation is made about the risk versus benefits of talking extemporaneously,” said Jonathan Lemire, the host of “Way Too Early” on MSNBC and Politico’s White House bureau chief. “But you sacrifice part of the megaphone by not having the president do these interviews.”

Mr. McClellan, of the Bush White House, cautioned that Mr. Biden’s advisers should work to avoid letting the perception of a disengaged Mr. Biden become ingrained in the public imagination.

“They may have been waiting until they’d gotten the legislation passed,” he said, referring to the infrastructure law. “I’m not sure, given where things are right now in his presidency and given the outcome of the November elections — and looking ahead to where the midterms are trending — that they can wait too much longer.”

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Trump's social media venture says it has raised $1B – Vancouver Sun

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He is working to launch a social media app called TRUTH Social that is at least several weeks away.

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Donald Trump’s new social media venture said on Saturday it had entered into agreements to raise about $1 billion from a group of unidentified investors as it prepares to float in the U.S. stock market.

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The capital raise, details of which were first reported by Reuters on Wednesday, underscored the former U.S. president’s ability to attract strong financial backing thanks to his personal and political brand. He is working to launch a social media app called TRUTH Social that is at least several weeks away.

Digital World Acquisition Corp, the blank-check acquisition firm that will take Trump Media & Technology Group Corp public by listing it in New York, said it will provide up to $293 million to the partnership with Trump’s media venture, taking the total proceeds to about $1.25 billion.

The $1 billion will be raised through a private investment in public equity (PIPE) transaction from “a diverse group of institutional investors,” Trump Media and Digital World said in a statement. They did not respond to requests to name the investors.

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Trump Media inked its deal with Digital World to go public in October at a valuation of $875 million, including debt. The social media venture is now valued at almost $4 billion based on the price of Digital World shares at the end of trading on Friday. Trump supporters and day traders snapped up the stock.

Many Wall Street firms such as mutual funds and private equity firms snubbed the opportunity to invest in the PIPE. Among those investors who participated were hedge funds, family offices and high net-worth individuals, Reuters reported on Wednesday. Family offices manage the wealth of the very rich and their kin.

Some Wall Street investors are reluctant to associate with Trump. He was banned from top social media platforms after the Jan. 6 attack by his supporters on the U.S. Capitol amid concerns he would inspire further violence. The Capitol attack was based on unsubstantiated claims of widespread fraud in last year’s presidential election.

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“As our balance sheet expands, Trump Media & Technology Group will be in a stronger position to fight back against the tyranny of Big Tech,” Trump said in a statement on Saturday.

The deal also faces regulatory risk. U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren asked Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Gary Gensler last month to investigate the planned merger for potential violations of securities laws around disclosure. The SEC has declined to comment on whether it plans any action.

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Trump Media and Digital World said the per-share conversion price of the convertible preferred stock PIPE transaction represents a 20% discount to Digital World’s volume-weighted average closing price for the five trading days to Dec. 1, when Reuters broke news of the capital raise.

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If that price averages below $56 in the 10 days after the merger with Digital World has been completed, the discount will grow to 40% with a floor of $10, the companies added. Digital World shares ended trading on Friday $44.97.

Trump had 89 million followers on Twitter, 33 million on Facebook and 24.5 million on Instagram at the time he was blocked, according to a presentation on his company’s website.

Investors attending the confidential investor road shows were shown a demo from the planned social media app, which looked like a Twitter feed, Reuters reported.

FIRST-QUARTER ROLLOUT

Since Trump was voted out of office last year, he has repeatedly dropped hints that he might seek the presidency in 2024.

Special purpose acquisition companies such as Digital World had lost much of their luster with retail investors before the Trump media deal came along. Many of these investors were left with big losses after the companies that merged with SPACs failed to deliver on their ambitious financial projections.

TRUTH Social is scheduled for a full rollout in the first quarter of 2022. It is the first of three stages in the Trump Media plan, followed by a subscription video-on-demand service called TMTG+ that will feature entertainment, news and podcasts, according to the news release.

In a slide deck on its website, the company envisions eventually competing against Amazon.com’s AWS cloud service and Google Cloud.

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Trump social media company claims to raise $1bn from investors – The Guardian

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Trump social media company claims to raise $1bn from investors  The Guardian



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Trump's new social media company says it has $1 billion in funding lined up – National | Globalnews.ca – Global News

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Donald Trump‘s new social media company and its special purpose acquisition company partner say the partner has agreements for $1 billion in capital from institutional investors.

The former president launched his new company, Trump Media & Technology Group, in October. He unveiled plans for a new messaging app called “Truth Social” to rival Twitter and the other social media platforms that banned him following the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

TMTG’s plan is to become a publicly listed company through a merger with the publicly traded Digital World Acquisition Corp., a special purpose acquisition company whose sole purpose is to acquire a private company and take it public.

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The institutional investors were not identified in a press release issued Saturday by Trump Media and Digital World. The money would come from “a diverse group” of investors after the two companies are combined, it said.

Digital World said in the release that the $1 billion is above the $293 million (minus expenses) that it may invest.

“I am confident that TMTG can effectively deploy this capital to accelerate and strengthen the execution of its business, including by continuing to attract top talent, hire top technology providers, and roll out significant advertising and business development campaigns,” Digital World CEO Patrick Orlando said in the release.

Trump is listed as chair of TMTG. He will get tens of millions in special bonus shares if the combined company performs well, handing the former president possibly billions of dollars in paper wealth.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

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