The 2020 virtual campaign 'lulled' Biden's messaging into 'a White House from the '80s or '90s': Chuck Todd

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The 2020 virtual campaign 'lulled' Biden's messaging into 'a White House from the '80s or '90s': Chuck Todd
NBC "Meet the Press" moderator Chuck Todd.William B. Plowman/NBC via Getty Images
  • NBC's Chuck Todd said the 2020 campaign poorly served the Biden administration's messaging.
  • The "Meet the Press" host told Insider virtual campaigning "lulled" Biden into a tough spot.
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Once COVID-19 scrapped in-person campaigning for the remainder of the 2020 presidential campaign, President Joe Biden and his team were "lulled" into a false sense of security over their messaging, "Meet the Press" host Chuck Todd told Insider in an interview.

"It served to mislead the Biden White House about how to do this," Todd said of the Zoom campaign. "I think the campaign was too easy for them."

Speaking to Insider about how he deals with confronting misinformation and with lawmakers from a GOP that's doubled-down on election denials, Todd noted that the pulse check of in-person events with voters was lost on Biden right as his campaign consolidated support for a victorious party nomination.

"That's where I think the 2020 campaign really — particularly for Democrats and this Biden White House — how they were able to win their primary, how they were able to win this general election with very minimal traveling around the country, very minimal amount of talking to voters, I think, lulled them into a place that has made them very — they look like a White House from the '80s or '90s," Todd said. "I don't think that they fully know how to work the 21st Century media environment."

While the virtual campaign helped Biden carry five crucial states then-President Donald Trump had won in 2016, it had other knock-on effects, Todd added.

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Already known for keeping campaign reporters at a distance during the primary pre-pandemic, the Zoom campaign afforded Biden even more distance from the journalists covering him.

"I think it served a whole bunch of things into the negative for them," Todd said. "They never got to know who their press corps was. So there's no relationship with your press corps for good or for bad — there's just none at all.

"And you see it now," he continued, "There seems to be a lot of distrust, because they won without having to be very transparent, because they won without having to give much media access. They built a White House that does the same thing."

Biden has done fewer than half of the 21 press conferences Trump did in his first year in office, according to data from UC Santa Barbara's The American Presidency Project. And the New York Times reported he's only sat for about a dozen one-on-one interviews with major print and TV outlets, far below 50 for Trump or 100 for then-President Barack Obama during a similar period.

Todd traced the pandemic campaign disconnect through to the Biden administration's Build Back Better bill, which is currently languishing in Congress and may not get a vote until next year.

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"They sit there and they go, 'but it's popular, but it's popular!' — yeah, hardwood floors are popular, but that doesn't mean they're the first thing people would wanna buy if they're dealing with something," Todd said.

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