Biden and TikTok — an odd couple – The Washington Post

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A lunchtime newsletter featuring political analysis on the stories driving the day.
A lunchtime newsletter featuring political analysis on the stories driving the day.
Welcome to The Daily 202! Tell your friends to sign up here. This is your Daily 202 researcher, Caroline, in today for Olivier. He’ll be back tomorrow.
On this day in 1986, the Iran-contra affair began coming to light as a Lebanese magazine reported that the United States had been secretly selling arms to Iran. Three weeks later, Attorney General Edwin Meese would reveal that these funds were being illegally diverted to the anti-communist Contras in Nicaragua.
President Biden’s team wants young voters to know he’s with it — he knows about TikTok.
He was in on the joke when the Jonas Brothers ran around the White House to recreate a viral video from the platform last year. At the Detroit Auto Show in September, he appeared in a clip from a creator whose bit is asking people driving nice cars what they do for a living.
Sitting behind the wheel of an electric Cadillac, aviators on, Biden responds: “Well, I’m married to Jill Biden, and I make sure we’re making a lot more electric vehicles in America.”
The Biden administration wants to reach TikTok’s ever-ballooning audience. But it faces one pretty big hurdle: TikTok is banned at the White House. And the State Department, and the Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of Defense. 
There’s no blanket ban on the app across the government, but many federal agencies forbid employees from downloading TikTok to government phones. The Democratic National Committee is the only U.S. political party on the platform, per my colleague Taylor Lorenz.
There  isn’t “a world in which you could come up with sufficient protection on the data that you could have sufficient confidence that it’s not finding its way back into the hands of the [Chinese Communist Party],” Commissioner Brendan Carr told Axios
But the Biden team, hungry to reach young voters, doesn’t want to miss out on the audience afforded by the nation’s fastest-growing social media platform. So the White House is now walking a strange tightrope between relevancy and national security.
And it’s causing some tension: After Biden invited several TikTok influencers to the Oval Office last week, some national security sources privately said they were not pleased. They spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive topic. 
The White House did not respond to The Daily 202’s request for comment.
TikTok’s critics call it a privacy nightmare. It knows a startling amount about its users, including the two-thirds of American teens who say they use it, and its algorithm mines information from your every tap to decide what you want to see next.
The United States has struggled with how to rein in the app (you might recall when President Trump was going to flip the kill switch on it but changed his mind at the last minute), and the Biden administration is reportedly trying to wrangle an agreement with TikTok that addresses the U.S.’s security concerns. 
So how is the Biden White House using TikTok without actually having an account? 
You don’t have to post anything to get your message out on TikTok. You just need an in with people willing to spread the word.
“The key to quote-unquote winning TikTok in the political space isn’t about your own content as much as it’s about how you are getting your message out through creators,” Rob Flaherty, the White House’s director of digital strategy, told Bloomberg News. “And that means you have to take them seriously and give them the information they need to help inform their own audiences in authentic ways.”
David Almacy, former White House Internet Director for President George W. Bush, helped usher the internet era into the Bush White House. He told The Daily 202 it’s smart for an administration to embrace new technologies — especially ones that can give them access to audiences they might not otherwise reach.
But, Almacy warned, political figures wading into unfamiliar young-person territory should be cautious.
That said, Almacy said especially right before the midterms, TikTok is worth gambling on.
“The goal here is to get people to vote and to get people to care about policies and hear about them and decide whether they agree with them or not,” he said. “Any White House that is proactively doing that, in my mind, is trying to do the right thing.”
“Pakistan’s top opposition leader, Imran Khan, was shot in the foot Thursday during a protest march and was lightly injured, party officials said,” Shaiq Hussain and Susannah George report.
A gunman opened fire on the truck carrying the former prime minister and several other party officials taking part in a protest convoy. The attack occurred near the eastern Pakistani city of Wazirabad, where hundreds of Khan’s supporters were marching with his convoy.”
“Some 30% of respondents overall said in the new survey they believe the administration is doing too much to help Ukraine, up from 6% in a March Journal poll. The change was driven by a big shift among GOP voters: 48% of Republicans now say the U.S. is doing too much, up from 6% in the previous survey,” the Wall Street Journal’s Vivian Salama reports.
“Clinton, despite being one of the best-known Democrats in the country, has been one of the party’s least visible surrogates at campaign rallies in recent years…That New York Democrats are asking for her help to juice turnout in Manhattan underscores the deep anxiety coursing through the party as Election Day nears, with Hochul locked in a tight race against Republican Lee Zeldin,” CNN’s Dan Merica and Gregory Krieg report.
“For decades, Democrats and Republicans trying to attract Latino voters have been guided by widespread assumptions that the generally Democratic Latino electorate is conservative on the issue of abortion. But recent polls have debunked those long-held beliefs, finding most Latinos say abortion should be legal, often on par with White voters though trailing Black voters in support,” Silvia Foster-Frau and Marianna Sotomayor report.
“Given that the political fundamentals of this midterm election favor Republicans, Black voters are more crucial than ever for the Democrats. One overriding question is whether they will turn out in numbers big enough to offset those GOP advantages. Regardless, many Black voters fear a future in which overt racism becomes more apparent. They have concerns about whether Biden, who is well liked, has the strength to unify the country around a more positive vision. And there are questions about whether the Democratic Party speaks to Black voters as effectively as needed,” Dan Balz reports.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office has been criminally investigating the people who help run elections, Cassandra Jaramillo and Joshua Kaplan report for ProPublica and the Texas Tribune.
Over the past two years, Paxton’s office opened at least 10 investigations into alleged crimes by election workers, a more extensive effort than previously known, according to records obtained by ProPublica. One of his probes was spurred by a complaint from a county GOP chair, who lost her reelection bid in a landslide. She then refused to certify the results, citing ‘an active investigation’ by the attorney general.”
“In the final stretch of this year’s midterm elections, the longtime struggle by Democrats to build a cohesive approach to immigration has become newly urgent for the party as it confronts a wave of attacks in Republicans’ closing pitch to the country, the New York Times’ Jazmine Ulloa reports.
“Adding to the challenge for Democrats, many of the immigrants rights’ groups and progressive organizations that have often done frontline work for the party are under financial strain and battling burnout.”
The virtually unprecedented presidential message — a plea to Americans to accept the basic tenets of their democracy — came as millions of voters have already cast their ballots or are planning to go to the polls on Election Day, and as some election officials expressed confidence that the system would hold,” Rosalind S. Helderman and Yasmeen Abutaleb report.
“Nearly 7,000 Venezuelan migrants have been authorized to travel to the United States since the Biden administration recently created a program for U.S. sponsors to apply for them, and more than 490 have already arrived, Department of Homeland Security officials said Thursday,” Maria Sacchetti reports.
China’s ambassador to the U.S. just became one of the more powerful people in the Chinese government. But the Biden administration has given him the cold shoulder for much of his tenure — a posture that could further complicate the touchy relations between the superpowers,” Politico’s Phelim Kine reports.
“In addition to hundreds of congressional and state executive contests, voters will have the opportunity to weigh in on a variety of issues through ballot measures on Nov. 8,” Nick Mourtoupalas reports
Here’s a look at where some key issues will appear on state ballots:
Five states — California, Kentucky, Michigan, Montana and Vermont — have ballot measures on abortion.
Recreational marijuana will appear on midterm ballots in five states, four of which are traditionally conservative — highlighting the increasingly bipartisan support of legalization.
Various changes to voting-related policies will be on ballots in seven states. 
Five states will vote on whether to eliminate language in their constitutions that allows slavery as punishment in prisons, an exception written into the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery more than 150 years ago.
“Harris’ growing comfort amid the steady beat of political activity marks a period of relative stability. There has been a perceptible absence of negative noise hanging over her every movement — to the point that the VP’s allies now don’t so much vent about Beltway coverage as they do a lack of it,” Politico’s Christopher Cadelago and Eugene Daniels report.
According to four prominent Republicans, DeSantis appears to be reconsidering his plans to run. Sources told me DeSantis recently indicated to donors that he would not challenge Trump for the Republican nomination. ‘He’s led them to believe he will not run if Trump does,’ a Republican briefed on the donor conversations told me,” Gabriel Sherman reports for Vanity Fair.
Biden will arrive in Albuquerque at 2:35 p.m.
At 3:45 p.m., he will speak about student debt relief at Central New Mexico Community College.
Biden will appear at a rally for Democrats at Ted M. Gallegos Community Center at 5: 45 p.m.
At 6:55 p.m., he will leave Albuquerque for San Diego, where he will arrive at 8:35 p.m.
Biden will participate in a political event for Rep. Mike Levin (D-Calif.) at 9:30 p.m. at MiraCosta College.
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