BTS meets Joe Biden and draws viewers to the White House press briefing

Korean band BTS appears at the daily press briefing with Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, at the White House Brady Press Conference in Washington, DC on May 31, 2022, during their visit to discuss Asian Inclusion and Representation, and Anti-Asian Hate Crimes and Discrimination.

Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images

A White House press briefing on Tuesday saw a massive surge in viewership as K-pop megastars BTS stopped by to make remarks ahead of a meeting with President Joe Biden.

The seven-member sensation, who broke records with her popular songs and music videos, drew more than 310,000 concurrent viewers to listen to the press briefing live on the White House YouTube channel. Regular briefings, which have recently focused on topics such as inflation and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, rarely generate an audience close to Tuesday’s.

The official White House video of a briefing without BTS last Thursday, for example, had garnered less than 16,000 total views on YouTube by Tuesday afternoon.

BTS came to the White House to speak to Biden about Asian inclusion and representation, and to discuss a sharp rise in anti-Asian hate crimes in recent years. Biden signed the Covid-19 Hate Crimes Act last year in an effort to combat this trend.

The Oval Office conference between the US president and the South Korean boy band was to follow a meeting between Biden and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell. The two men were due to discuss the state of the economy and inflation, what the White House calls Biden’s “top economic priority.”

The pop stars, dressed in nearly identical black suits and black ties, stood behind press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre at the desk in the James Brady briefing room as the briefing began on Tuesday afternoon.

The number of people watching the White House video immediately increased when the briefing began, even as the stream was initially plagued with sound issues.

“Hello, we are BTS, and it is a great honor to be invited to the White House today to be able to discuss the important issues of anti-Asian hate crimes, Asian inclusion, and diversity,” the leader of the group, RM, told the crowd. journalists in English.

He also thanked Biden for “the important opportunity to talk about important causes. [and] let’s remember what we can do as artists.”

The other six members each spoke in Korean. The group did not answer any questions and left the room.

Much of the audience left just as quickly. Within minutes of the group’s departure, more than 200,000 viewers had left the livestream.

“OK,” National Economic Council Director Brian Deese said with a sigh after the group left, prompting laughter.

“So I can go home and tell my kids that BTS opened up for me,” he said.

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