White House Comms Shop Fumbles Israeli Attacks Statement

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

As someone who has written official statements on behalf of leaders for over a decade,  I can tell you that it is more than fair to say the White House Comms Shop dropped the ball in response to the violent and viral attacks on Israel.


A standard statement protocol should take under an hour, start to finish; seasoned professionals with a firm understanding of the situation and process can get it done in 30 minutes. The White House did not issue a statement until 11:08 a.m. ET on Saturday, Oct. 7 — 12 hours after the Israeli Defense Forces Twitter account let the world know the county was under attack, and 10 hours after there was no doubt there would be hundreds of casualties.

Sure, Jerusalem is seven hours ahead of Washington, D.C., so while Israelis were waking up to rocket fire, political staffers were deep in their cups on a Friday night. If you’ve not seen Union Pub at midnight on Friday, just imagine a frat party where everyone is wearing disheveled suits.

Saturdays are usually reserved for hangovers and brunch for the JV politico crowd, so the group chat probably looked like this:

get 2 office – need statement

IDK, Im still buzzzzzzzzzed LOL

james is blowing *poo emoji* up 

Who’s James?

Ugh, hamas. Stupid autocorrect.

lolololol i thot u were gonna hook up
wid dat guy – maybe his names james


Imma need some eggs benny before I can do anything


Okay, go to Ebbitt and then get to the office.

Now, in Old Ebbitt Grill’s defense, they do have a fantastic eggs benedict and spicy Bloody Maryland. However, when our country’s most vulnerable ally and strategic partner is under attack, it’s time to go to work. Grab an iced coffee and avocado toast from Dunkin’ (eat the double chocolate donut before anyone sees you) and move your molasses.


When the statement was finally released, it went over about as well as a wet firecracker.


This feels like a safe, check-in-the-box statement written by some hungover 20-somethings:

  1. POTUS is on it (definitely not sleeping), talked to Netanyahu
  2. These attacks are not okay
  3. We’re sorta willing to help, but not unconditionally and definitely not in any definite terms
  4. Terrorism
  5. If anyone thinks about jumping in, don’t because SEE NUMBER 3
  6. Jill needs a shoutout
  8. Also, more adjectives!

The @POTUS Twitter account posted an abbreviated version of the statement. White House Comms staff circled the wagons and retweeted each other to make the reaction seem bigger and stronger that it was.

What makes the statement even more ridiculous is it was probably drafted by two or three people, and then workshopped by another two or three. A polished draft they thought was “good enough” was sent up the ladder where it got reviewed by someone who is indifferent when it comes to Israel and probably had a pro-Palestine professor at Georgetown; they rubber-stamped it as “good enough” and passed it to publishing. That Word document was copied, pasted, and formatted, then posted on the appropriate channels before being blasted to the media list serve.

If the above speculation is close, 8-12 people were responsible for writing and reviewing the statement, none of them anywhere near President Biden. By the time POTUS got around to reading or, more likely, hearing the statement, it had been out for a while and the comms shop had gone home.


Drafting a statement is formulaic, not an art. Ghost and speechwriters are paid to know the “voice” of the person they are serving as well, if not better, than the actual person. Cadence, vocabulary, idioms, tone, and structure are crucial to speaking on someone’s behalf with eloquence and accuracy. When someone reads the words, they should automatically hear the voice of whoever issued them.

What needs to be said and, more importantly, why does the speaker need to say it? Understanding those two items will enable a writer to perform the “how.” How do we say what needs to be said while communicating the undercurrent of “why”? Why does this person need to say this thing right now? Why can no one else say it and achieve the same effect?

A big problem in this lost skill is the dominance of self. In an era where “everyone is special,” it’s practically impossible to set aside one’s ego and agenda to bolster someone else’s prominence. Junior staffers inject their own voices and perspectives into the project, as do their supervisors, and maybe it goes all the way up the chain. Unfortunately, Joe Biden is such a malleable and frail figurehead that this is comically easy for them to do. That’s why nothing this President reads or issues has any authenticity — it’s not him, but a conglomerate of newish graduates who just want to prove how special and important they are.

This statement should have been more aggressive on every front, from the time it was issued to the support of Israel to the condemnation of Hamas and the Iranian regime that supports it. We’ve already covered why the timing was lazy and the language was languid, but what we have not yet discussed, dear readers, is the total absence of Iran from the statement.


Iran, as we all know, funds Hamas. President Biden released SIX BILLION DOLLARS to Iran three weeks ago. The older I get, the harder it is for me to believe in coincidences.

This money was held in secure accounts in South Korea. It funneled through banks in Europe before landing in Qatar. White House officials who brokered the deal are pollyanna-ish enough to believe only a small number of vetted companies that will supply food, medicine, and basic necessities have the ability to spend the cash.

If I gave a petulant child a package of Oreos in exchange for 20 minutes of silence under the condition he could only give the cookies to neighborhood kids and not eat any himself, then I would not only deserve the wrath of a petulant, sugar-high child, but also the disdain of local kids who were denied their cookies.

Let’s be clear: that’s what Joe Biden did. He gave $6 billion to Iran in exchange for five Americans, trusting the Iranian President’s pinky promise.

Now, don’t get hung up on arguing that these are taxpayer dollars because they aren’t. The $6 billion was released in the sense that the funds were frozen assets. In this sense, the White House Comms Shop fumbled again because they were so focused on making sure we knew Americans were released that they presented it like a ransom paid right out of our pockets.

Related: What Went Wrong? How Hamas Managed to Stagger Israel

We can bemoan the lifers in office who are no longer civil servants but manipulating freeloaders (and we should!), but it’s imperative we also see that those who are doing the actual work are also manipulating freeloaders. Am I painting with a broad brush? Yes, and there might be one or two decent, honest people among them but, in the spirit of honesty, readers, you should know how difficult it was for me to type this sentence with a straight face.


The American people deserve better. The Israelis deserve better. It’s embarrassing.

Biden Border
AP Photo/Patrick Semansky



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