Yahoo News ran an op-ed by President Joe Biden on Monday, roughly three years after rejecting an offering from then-President Donald Trump that was much more political in flavor, according to two people familiar with the situation.
The two opinion pieces, while not a clean comparison, shine a light on one newsroom’s decision-making taking op-eds penned by an outsider GOP president keen on disrupting American politics and a Democratic one who was a senator for 36 years and then vice president for eight.
Biden’s piece was published just under three years after Yahoo News rejected a pitch from the Trump White House calling on the public to vote for Republican candidates heading into the midterm elections, Trump’s former White House deputy press secretary, Judd Deere, confirmed to the Washington Examiner.
The pieces, however, do differ in two major ways.
Firstly, the Trump op-ed, as published by USA Today, was apparently riddled with inaccuracies. On the other hand, though it’s only been online for a little over 36 hours, the Biden op-ed does not yet appear to have prompted any fact checks.
Second, though both pieces argued the presidents’ respective legislative agendas, only the Trump piece directly called on readers to vote for a particular party in the face of an imminent election.
The offering from Biden, titled “Biden: Americans can be proud of the infrastructure deal,” outlined a “new chapter” in America’s bipartisan, political history and was an ostensible endorsement of the bipartisan infrastructure accord agreed to by the White House and a group of 20 senators on Friday. The piece framed the agreement as a “once in a generation investment” and part of the president’s “blue-collar blueprint to rebuild America.”
Biden wrote in the piece that the proposal, which is facing an uphill battle on Capitol Hill following statements from both the president and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, “is a signal to ourselves, and to the world, that American democracy can work and deliver for the people.”
“Neither Democrats nor Republicans got everything they wanted in this agreement,” he continued, urging the public to lobby congressional delegations to vote for the package. “But that’s what it means to compromise and reach consensus — the very heart of democracy. When we negotiate in good faith, and come together to get big things done, we begin to break the ice that too often has kept us frozen in place and prevented us from solving the real problems Americans face.”
Notably, Yahoo News appears to avoid publishing original op-eds often, with the only search results generated being pieces aggregated from other news outlets.
Deere, one of the Trump administration’s longest-serving press aides, explained that White House officials “made a run” at Yahoo’s editorial team in early fall 2018. The piece was one of two op-ed pitches they attempted to place that year, but Yahoo eventually rejected the offering over concerns that it would read as an explicit endorsement of the Republican platform heading into the midterm elections.
Hunter Walker, a former White House correspondent for Yahoo who covered the Trump administration in its entirety but left the site in the spring to write an independent newsletter, echoed Deere’s recollection of the event but could not provide details on who specifically decided to decline Trump’s pitch or why.
“It was a while ago, but I remember something like that,” he said in a statement to the Washington Examiner. “It wasn’t my call. In my view, you either run op-eds, or you don’t.”
The Trump team would go on to run the piece in USA Today under the headline, “Donald Trump: Democrats’ ‘Medicare for All’ plan will demolish promises to seniors,” which sparked a significant debate at the time.
Yahoo’s Editor-in-Chief Daniel Klaidman referred the Washington Examiner’s inquiries on why the Biden op-ed was accepted while the Trump pitch was not to the public relations team at Verizon, Yahoo News’s parent company. Verizon representatives did not offer a comment by press time.
CNN reported Monday night that the Biden team selected Yahoo due to the site’s “significant reach.”
The two decisions also differ in another way: One Yahoo editor acknowledges a relationship with the 46th president.
Klaidman detailed his long-standing relationship with Biden during a 2020 Democratic National Convention panel for Yahoo Finance.
“You know, a lot of reporters have known Joe Biden over the years, partly because of his longevity, and partly because he’s a garrulous schmoozer who likes reporters,” Klaidman said. “I first met him when I was covering the Senate Judiciary Committee in the late ’80s, the early ’90s.”
“But I then got a chance — one of the sort of more interesting trips I’ve taken with a politician was in 2005 — when there was a kind of detente between the United States and Libya,” he continued. “And he invited me along on his trip to Libya to meet with Muammar Gaddafi, and it was just me and a few of his aides on his Gulfstream V.”
Klaidman claimed: “That’s when I really sort of got the Biden treatment. I think it was about a 4-and-a-half-hour dinner, just me and Joe Biden, and you know, he is an incredibly compelling guy in person.”
“In this case, he was using all of his charm. I’m the one reporter who was on the plane with him, and it was really quite something, and you really got a sense of his ability to connect with voters and with really anyone who’s around him when he wants to do it. So, it was eye-opening.”