TikTok Joe: Biden slammed for using influencers to blame rising gas prices, inflation on Russia

National Security Council staffers and White House press secretary Jen Psaki briefed 30 TikTok influencers about the war unfolding in Ukraine


                            TikTok Joe: Biden slammed for using influencers to blame rising gas prices, inflation on Russia
Users have slammed Joe Biden for deploying TikTok stars to blame the soaring inflation on Russia (Win McNamee/Getty Images, Twitter)

On Thursday, March 10, National Security Council staffers and White House press secretary Jen Psaki briefed 30 TikTok influencers gathered on a Zoom call about the war unfolding in Ukraine. The briefing mentioned the United States' strategic goals in the region and answered questions on distributing aid to Ukrainians, working with NATO, and how the United States would react to Russia's use of nuclear weapons, reports The Washington Post.

Due to TikTok's rise as a dominant source of news among the youth, US President Joe Biden and his administration decided to deploy a group of influential TikTokers to blame the soaring inflation on Russia's invasion of Ukraine, despite it being an issue months before the war began. This comes after it was revealed that inflation increased by 7.9 percent year on year, which is the highest jump in 40 years.

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"The cost of living has been soaring for months, with the latest reporting period closing just four days after Putin invaded Ukraine, meaning Americans have been warned to brace for even worse increases in April. The president is desperate to shift the blame for the tanking economy as his own approval ratings crumble, with this November's midterms currently predicted to spell grim news for his Democrat party," reports Daily Mail.



 

 

Gen Z For Change, a nonprofit advocacy group, helped the administration identify top content creators on the platform. Victoria Hammett, deputy executive director of Gen Z For Change, sent invitations to multiple TikTok stars via email on Tuesday and Wednesday. 21-year-old Kahlil Greene, who has more than 534K followers on TikTok, said he wasn't surprised when an invitation arrived in his email inbox. "People in my generation get all our information from TikTok. It's the first place we're searching up new topics and learning about things."



 

 

The White House briefing was led by Matt Miller, a special adviser for communications at the White House National Security Council, and White House Press Secretary, Jen Psaki. The Washington Post obtained a SoundCloud recording of the call. "On Thursday, March 10, 2022, thirty top TikTok stars gathered together on a Zoom call to receive key information about the war unfolding in Ukraine from the White House," the recording posted by @TaylorLorenz is captioned.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki led the White House briefing on Thursday, March 10 (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

 

 "We recognize this is a critically important avenue in the way the American public is finding out about the latest, so we wanted to make sure you had the latest information from an authoritative source," says White House director of digital strategy, Rob Flaherty in the recording. Hours after the briefing, the creators started sharing takeaways from the briefing with their millions of followers.

18-year-old Ellie Zeiler, who has more than 10 million followers, posted a video on her TikTok profile with the text, "Why is gas so expensive?" In the video, she asks her followers, "Why is gas so expensive, and why is the United States inflation rate at a four-time decade-high? I had the opportunity to ask the White House why gas down the street is $7 and here's what they said."



 

 

"The obvious reason, we're getting out of a two-year pandemic. When use goes up, the price goes up. But the call was predominantly about Ukraine and Russia, so how does that relate? Russia is one of the top three producers of oil and it is actually their number one revenue source. Now, with Putin starting this horrific fight between Ukraine and Russia, nobody wants to work with him and do international trade," Zeller, said in her one-minute-long video on Sunday.

"I feel bad she's being manipulated like this, I also feel bad that we are all paying her for this propaganda," read one tweet. "This is one of the TikTok stars that the White House invited on a zoom call to get briefed on Ukraine. Her channel, which is just hundreds of videos of her dancing, is definitely the first place I would go to get Biden-approved news on the war [clown emoji]. The adults are back in charge," said another.



 

 



 

 

A third user commented, "The White House is paying tik tok th*ts to lie to you about why gas prices are not the fault of western leadership," while a fourth asked, "Why is the White House briefing dumba** TikTok 'influencers' about the happenings in Ukraine?" A fifth wrote, "So the White House is spreading propaganda and misinformation, which their TikTok buddies are now spreading. Don't talk to me about social media and misinformation if this doesn't piss you off, and you say so publicly."



 

 



 

 



 

 

One user made a sarcastic comment saying, "I was skeptical about the war in Ukraine until the White House called a special war meeting with the 'TikTok stars'. Now everything seems totally legit." Another tweeted, "They really and truly believe we are all idiots. Sad. White House drafts TikTok stars to blame Putin for rising gas prices."



 

 



 

 

A third felt, "What a joke. This White House—including National Security Council staff—is spending time spreading debunked disinformation about the 2016 election to TikTok stars. Tells you everything you need to know about how unserious they are." A fourth mocked, "So glad the White House briefed the TikTok stars. How could I ever sleep at night knowing TikTokers weren't informed on geopolitical issues."



 

 



 

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