The contrast in covering Donald Trump and Joe Biden’s administrations might seem obvious to the public, but from Kaitlan Collins’ vantage point as someone who was literally there reporting on their presidencies every day, she spotted a few differences you might on expect
Collins, who was named CNN’s chief White House correspondent in January 2021, will now serve as co-anchor with Don Lemon and Poppy Harlow on the network’s “reimagined morning show,” CNN Worldwide Chairman and CEO Chris Licht announced in September. The new morning news program, called “CNN This Morning” debuts today, airing every weekday at 5-8 a.m. central.
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As soon as she transitioned to covering Biden’s White House in 2021, she saw stark changes, specifically with how they handled the media.
“There were huge differences,” she told AL.com. “Probably the most tangible one I noticed right away on day one was the relationship between the press office and the press. In any form of government — from the city council to the White House — it’s a naturally tense relationship.
“You kind of disagree on things. They’re pushing one thing, and you’re asking questions they don’t like. That’s always there. And it certainly existed still with the Biden administration. They did not love my questions all the time. But I think there was a level of professionalism in the press office with the Biden administration that I had not experienced necessarily in the Trump administration. That was the biggest tangible difference.”
She said when it comes to the president himself, reporters must cover many of the same issues from one administration to the next, such as the way each handled the COVID-19 pandemic. “I was in the room when Trump came out and talked about bleach and sunshine and what COVID was going to look like,” she said. “But it’s still as important of a topic. Your job remains the same, which is to get information. There’s huge differences in the way that they governed, in their staffing and the day-to-day lives of their West Wing and how they ran. But the job in and of itself still has a similar relationship.”
She noticed another big difference aboard Air Force One, where presidents often engage in more casual conversation with members of the White House press corps. That was true for one of them.
“One thing I will say that’s different, and I think this is always interesting to people who aren’t there on a daily basis,” Collins said. “Despite all of Trump’s criticisms of the press and CNN, of which there are many, when we were on Air Force One and we’d go on a trip somewhere, he’d usually come to the back of the plane to talk to us off the record.
“Obviously we could not report what he said, but he’d come back and talk with us all the time. So even though publicly he was really critical of us, he also would come back and chit-chat with us and ask us questions. Biden doesn’t usually come back on the back of the plane. I’ve never seen him come back on Air Force One since I’ve been there. I think he might have done it once.”