On Twitter And TikTok, Biden Grandchildren May Offer Viral View Of White House Life Presidential children and grandchildren are often shielded from the public eye, but that's changing. Joe Biden's grandchildren and Kamala Harris' stepchildren have their own personas on social media.
NPR logo

On Twitter And TikTok, Biden Grandchildren May Offer Viral View Of White House Life

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/940891836/941941443" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
On Twitter And TikTok, Biden Grandchildren May Offer Viral View Of White House Life

On Twitter And TikTok, Biden Grandchildren May Offer Viral View Of White House Life

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/940891836/941941443" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

As Joe Biden ran for president this year, his very public supporters included his grandchildren. Because they are active on social media, the Biden family's lives are less private than other presidents' children and grandchildren have been. NPR's Elena Moore reports.

ELENA MOORE, BYLINE: During the Democratic National Convention, Joe Biden's four granddaughters were introduced in a pretty traditional way. They appeared in a video explaining how they had encouraged their grandfather to run for president.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO)

NAOMI BIDEN: He thought we were calling a meeting sort of to, like, discuss, you know, whether or not we wanted him to. But really, we were calling it to be like, get in that race. Hurry up.

MOORE: That's Naomi Biden, the president-elect's eldest granddaughter. She's next to her sisters, Finnegan and Maisy and their cousin Natalie. All four granddaughters played active roles in Joe Biden's online campaign, along with Ella and Cole Emhoff, the stepchildren of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.

But some of these young adults are also public on their own time, using Twitter, Instagram and TikTok. Over the last year, Naomi Biden's voice has gotten especially louder over Twitter, from posting supportive messages about her pop to sharing Biden-themed memes. She's racked up tens of thousands of likes. This adds to Biden's appeal, according to Lisa Caputo. She was press secretary to Hillary Clinton as first lady.

LISA CAPUTO: He's relatable to begin with. But then to hear it through the voice and through the eyes of his granddaughter, I think, just puts a whole nother lens of relatability onto him in a whole nother way that never would have been contemplated or utilized way back when.

MOORE: President Trump's younger son, Barron, isn't visible on social media. President Obama's daughters aren't super visible either. Tevi Troy is a historian who studied presidential usage of pop culture and says, well, things have changed.

TEVI TROY: The time seems to be right to have a president who has a bunch of family members who are active on social media. And social media is not a weird or elite thing. It's a kind of common thing today.

MOORE: And while presidential families have played public roles before, says historian and journalist Kate Andersen Brower, the Biden and Emhoff young adults stand out.

KATE ANDERSEN BROWER: I think that this is really a first where we're seeing this kind of individualism and the support of the family.

MOORE: Brower says she was struck by Ella Emhoff's presence on Instagram. Emhoff is an art student and often posts photos of her work online. She also went viral on election night when a TikTok was posted of her trying her first McDonald's Filet-O-Fish while watching CNN. The video has 2.4 million views.

BROWER: She's capturing that individualism.

MOORE: And days later, when the election was called for Biden, his own grandchildren went viral when they told the world their family had begun celebrating the win. Naomi Biden tweeted a picture of the family group hug with the president-elect. And Maisy Biden posted a TikTok. She walks on screen in a T-shirt that says Joe the vice president, and crosses out the word vice. It was set to this song by The Belmonts.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "NA NA HEY HEY (KISS HIM GOODBYE)")

THE BELMONTS: (Singing) Na, na, na, na, hey, hey, hey, goodbye.

MOORE: It has 1.7 million views. Still, Brower cautions that in the past, some first families have taken a step back after the campaign ends.

BROWER: I'm curious to see if the Biden grandchildren in particular really take this public facing role once he is in office.

MOORE: But that would mean breaking their social media habit.

Elena Moore, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF ANOMALIE'S "CRESCENT")

Copyright © 2020 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.