Add the inherent geographic focus of the national media to their New York home base – where Cuomo and even New York Mayor Bill de Blasio have taken on oversized roles in national reporting – and Biden struggles to assert himself.
“The other difficulty for Biden is getting involved,” said Doctor. “And you cannot easily get caught up in a crisis situation, except to say what you would do as a president or to say that the president is not doing enough. But it could look very political.”
Trump’s campaign has accused Biden of just that and undermined the president, who has gained ground in the polls since starting daily press conferences at the White House. The Biden campaign advisors, however, reject the criticism and say that Trump’s press conferences do more harm than good to the president and the country.
Biden praised Cuomo, a fellow Democrat who has won praise for his steady leadership and serves as a foil for a sometimes unpredictable Trump.
“The briefings by Andrew Cuomo, Governor of New York, are a lesson in leadership,” said Biden on Monday. “Republicans and Democrats are all standing up and putting politics aside to do what needs to be done. But they are asking the federal government for more help. “
Cuomo was one of seven governors that Biden honored for his praise and tried to give his statements a bipartisan splendor by involving three Republicans. But even there he had a little trip and mistakenly called the Republican governor of Massachusetts, Charlie Baker, “Charlie Parker”.
Few who saw Biden’s briefing saw it as equivalent counter-programming to Monday’s White House briefing, which included President, Vice President Mike Pence, Attorney General William Barr, and the White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator, Deborah Birx. In most other cases, Anthony Fauci, the highly respected director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, was involved in this briefing.
Biden was used to speaking behind a lectern and decided to put one in the middle of his new home studio – an uncomfortable fit against the backdrop of bookshelves and personal images framed under a table lamp in the living room.
There were hiccups that showed the tell-tale signs of a 77-year-old candidate getting used to a campaign that was fully online within a few days. At the start of the webcast, Biden wasn’t sure when he was live. A few minutes later his teleprompter seemed to have broken when he tried but was unable to gesture under it Camera image for an invisible adjutant who gives him notes.
“The lectern in a living room looked really weird – nobody would do it in real life, so it shouldn’t be done on a social level,” said Kevin Cate, former media strategist for one of Biden’s former opponents, Tom Steyer.
“Vice President Biden can give speeches regularly, but they should look more like the Obama White House, seated and in front of the camera,” said Cate. “Social media requires authenticity and commitment, so they should also rely on interactive and engaging live formats.”
Following the Biden campaign, however, Cate believes that the political damage that the President caused by his own misleading statements and distortions at his press conferences far outweighs any Biden stumble. A Biden consultant added that people are seeing Trump “putting the bully in the bullying pulpit”.