Renowned TikTok influencer Greene and several others says White House is using TikTok stars as pawns to achieve their goals in Ukraine.
Khalil Greene, a TikTok celebrity and self-described “Gen Z Historian,” has chastised his peers for telling their viewers “verbatim” what the Biden administration intended them to say about the Ukraine conflict. Greene explained why conservatives believe the young influencers were “used as pawns by the White House.”
Greene was one of 30 social media influencers called to a White House video conference last month, during which Press Secretary Jen Psaki spelled out the US’ position on Ukraine and Russia in order for the message to be delivered to their millions of followers. Rob Flaherty, the White House’s director of digital strategy, said the virtual briefing was “critically important” to ensure that the influencers received “the latest information from an authoritative source.”
Greene, on the other hand, told Newsweek that he was unimpressed. Psaki began by portraying Russia’s offensive against Ukraine as “the biggest invasion since World War II,” and went on to say that the conflict will have “global consequences that would affect everyone in the United States,” he stated this week.
“I feel like had they stopped there, I would have appreciated it more,” Greene told the news outlet. “But then they started to add more to the answer that made me more skeptical and more uneasy. There were a few red herrings that made it seem like giving more attention and support to other crises was beyond their capacity. There was also a general lack of acknowledgement of the US government’s role in perpetuating other geopolitical issues.”
Greene, who is known for posting videos about black history and activism in the United States, said he presented Psaki’s information “as what the White House would say,” rather than his own perspective.
Other content creators, on the other hand, did not. Ellie Zeiler, who has 10.5 million Instagram followers, claimed her purpose was to “relay the information in a more digestible manner to my followers” following the briefing. She then told her followers that Russian President Vladimir Putin was to blame for the country’s record-high gas prices, a line that the Biden administration has tried to push despite the reality that gas prices have been rising since Biden entered office over a year ago.
Greene avoided criticising Zeiler, but chastised Marcus DiPaola, a TikTok celebrity, for “sharing what the White House said directly, without criticism or opinions.”
“When I saw a lot of the conservative fallout from the event, saying that people were being used as pawns by the White House, it was hard to argue against that,” he told Newsweek, describing how “the information being repeated about the session is just what we were told verbatim, without criticism.”
Greene was not the only person who objected to the briefing. “The energy of the call felt like a press briefing for kindergartners,” observed Jules Suzdaltsev, a Ukrainian-born journalist who also runs a renowned TikTok channel. He went on to say that the officials had avoided tough questions.
Apart from spoonfeeding material to TikTok influencers, the White House and US intelligence services have exploited mainstream media leaks to achieve their goals in Ukraine. US intelligence officers boasted in an NBC News piece released this week that they gave falsified and “low confidence” information to the press in order to win a “info war” against the Kremlin.