The White House theater you never knew existed

The White House theater you never knew existed
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President Joe Biden walks out to deliver remarks on COVID-19 during an event in the South Court Auditorium on the White House campus, Monday, Sept. 27, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) Evan Vucci/AP

President Joe Biden received his third COVID-19 vaccination shot last Monday on live television, but the event prompted rampant speculation about the room in which the event was staged, better known as the South Court Auditorium.

Since 2012, South Court has served as the White House's de facto location to host high-profile events that require additional camera access.

The auditorium itself was constructed during a renovation of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, a large building housing both the Vice President's ceremonial offices and working spaces for the hundreds of White House officials who don't have offices in the White House itself. It's located directly adjacent to the West Wing on the White House grounds.

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"South Court Auditorium basically replaced the auditorium in the same building used by presidents for decades. It was known as Room 450," Martha Kumar, director of the White House Transition Project and a politics professor at Towson University, told the Washington Examiner. "You have to slug your way up flights of stairs because the small elevators would hold only a limited number of people. That means you often had to walk. White House staff, as well as presidents, would have to make their way there, too, though they had the luxury of an elevator. With its easy access, the South Court site was welcomed by all."

Former White House events director Josh King claims the use of South Court is the latest iteration of "PoliOptics," a mashup of politics and optics used by "every modern president."

"Every week in Washington has an element of theater and stagecraft, one side or another working to take full advantage of visual storytelling," King explained. "Presidents can fly on Air Force One across the country — or even around the world — for a photo worthy to print on the top of the fold of U.S. newspapers."

"So, how did the mechanics of event production, and the auditorium itself, contribute to the wall-to-wall coverage?" he continues. "On most days, South Court Auditorium is a generic, stadium-style meeting room with four or five rows of seats; space in the back of the room for cameras sitting on tripods; a small buffer area in front of the stage for still photographers to capture the key moment; and handy backstage doors for easy ingress and egress by the principals."

Former Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump used South Court to roll out high-level policy announcements, yet Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris use the space even more than their predecessors. Biden and Harris frequently host virtual policy meetings with a wide variety of participants that, before coronavirus, would have been conducted in-person at the White House or in EEOB conference rooms. Those events range from the president's climate summits with foreign leaders to economic meetings with local business officials, are closely covered by the White House press pool, and feature a rotating selection of sets, backdrops, flags, and other signage that corresponds with each event.

Still, some anti-vaxx social media users, including Turning Point USA's Executive Director Charlie Kirk, claimed that Biden's vaccine booster event was evidence the administration was trying to pull one over on the public.

"Nothing is real with these people, it's all smoke and mirrors," Kirk tweeted. "But we're supposed to entrust them with all of the personal health decisions?"

Another user posted photos from the event along, captioned, "Fake President. Fake Jab. Fake News."

Numerous online fact-checkers found those aforementioned claims about Biden's event categorically false. Politifact noted that the set Biden was seated in front of was used at a different event in South Court the week prior.

A White House official additionally told the Washington Examiner that the conspiracies surrounding Biden's COVID-19 booster weren't worth a response.

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"These are the people stopping the country from beating this pandemic," that official stated. "There's no reasoning with this type of nonsense, but the president and the White House will continue trying to protect as many Americans as possible, regardless of their personal beliefs just like he promised to on the campaign trail."

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Tags: News, Joe Biden, White House, Coronavirus

Original Author: Christian Datoc

Original Location: The White House theater you never knew existed

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