Tag Archives: White House press office

Press aide goes for the throat against media

Now she’s done it.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the fiery White House press secretary, has now accused journalists and their bosses of “deliberately” reporting false news stories to advance an agenda.

Think of this for a moment. This is the White House’s front person with the media, the person who is supposed to develop a healthy professional relationship with those who report on the goings-on within the White House.

And by “healthy,” I don’t mean necessarily an always-positive relationship. “Healthy” implies that a certain two-way respect between sources and those who report on what they say and do.

The media-White House relationship should be listed in critical condition. At best.

White House at war with media

I am presuming that Sanders is speaking for Donald John Trump when she makes such hideous assertions. What she has done on the president’s behalf is accuse these professional journalists of violating the very tenets they vowed to uphold when they signed on to their craft.

Sanders said the media are “purposefully misleading the American people” by publishing and broadcasting reports that reporters and editors know are false.

I toiled in journalism for nearly four decades. Did I make mistakes while reporting the news? Sure I did. Did I correct them? Yes. Were any of them the result of some intent to advance a political agenda? Never.

I know I am speaking only for myself. I cannot know how others did their job, except that I always have accepted that other mainstream journalists adhered to a pledge that they would report truthfully and fairly.

To hear the White House press secretary assert that White House beat reporters are acting with deceit and dishonor is beyond offensive.

This is meant as a defense of POTUS?

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders no doubt intended to mount a stout defense of the president of the United States.

It somehow seemed to fall a bit flat, sounded a bit hollow.

Sanders was asked about the accusation that Democratic U.S. Sen. Al Franken groped and kissed a TV news anchor when the two of them were on a USO tour in 2006. Franken — who hadn’t yet joined the Senate — has acknowledged doing it and has apologized for his actions.

What about the myriad accusations that have been leveled against Donald J. Trump? Sanders said they differ from what Franken has confronted.

According to the Huffington Post:

“I think that this was covered pretty extensively during the campaign,” Sanders said. “We addressed that then. The American people, I think, spoke very loud and clear when they elected this president.”

“How is this different?” the reporter asked.

“I think in one case specifically, Sen. Franken has admitted wrongdoing, and the president hasn’t,” Sanders replied. “I think that’s a very clear distinction.” 

Yep. There you have it. The president hasn’t admitted to anything … as if he ever admits to doing a single wrong thing.

To be fair, none of the allegations against Trump has been proved — although he was recorded on a 2005 audio recording all but acknowledging that he could grab women by their “p****” if he felt like it.

You go, Professor Painter!

Richard Painter is emerging as one of my favorite pundits seen regularly when questions arise about the Trump administration.

Painter served as ethics lawyer/watchdog for President George W. Bush. Thus, he — more than likely — is a loyal Republican. He also is no fan of Donald John Trump Sr., which likely is why I appreciate his commentary so much.

Painter now teaches law at the University of Minnesota.

He recently commented on a statement from Trump senior adviser Kellyanne Conway, who suggested that the administration might administer lie-detector tests to aides in the hunt to determine who’s leaking information to the media.

Painter’s response via Twitter? “Kellyanne wants lie detectors in the White House? Try one on the press secretary podium. The place will light up like a disco!”

Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has pledged never to lie from the White House press podium. I would like very much to give her the benefit of the doubt.

However, maybe Sanders ought to follow Professor Painter’s suggestion: hook up to the polygraph machine — just to be sure.

(Crowd) size really must matter

You mean we’re still talking about the size of that inaugural crowd this past January? We’re still arguing over whether it measured up to what the brand new president of the United States called it — the largest gathering of human beings in world history … or something like that?

I guess in Donald J. Trump’s world, size matters.

The National Park Service’s inspector general now says the agency didn’t mess with the crowd size estimates of Trump’s inaugural nor did it leak any information to the media.

The Hill reports on the IG’s findings. Read the story here.

This malarkey about crowd size seemed to get under the president’s skin early this year. Various media published pictures showing the crowd gathered in front of Capitol Building at President Barack Obama’s first inaugural in 2009 and compared it to the crowd that heard Trump’s speech this past January. Obama’s crowd was, um, quite a bit larger.

Trump didn’t like hearing that. White House press secretary Sean Spicer’s initial press briefing included a serious scolding of the media for failing to report that the president’s inaugural crowd was the largest in history. The pictures, though, tell a different story.

Will this spell the end of this mini-tempest? Probably not, as long as Donald John Trump is president of the United States.

Sean Spicer: dead man walking

I guess Sean Spicer won’t be the White House press secretary much longer.

Fox News host Kimberly Guilfoyle is talking out loud about negotiations she has entered to become the next press flack at the White House.

I find it fascinating to the max that Spicer would be hung out to dry in public by the White House and, presumably, by the president of the United States.

To borrow a phrase from a long time ago — I refer to the Watergate scandal of the 1970s — it suggests that Donald John Trump is making Spicer “twist slowly in the wind.”

In an odd sort of way, Guilfoyle’s public acknowledgement that she’s in the running to replace the press secretary makes me feel a bit of sympathy for Sean Spicer.

He deserves better treatment than what he appears to be getting.

Spicer a goner at the White House?

The Washington, D.C., rumor mill is clattering like crazy as the next work week gets set to commence.

It involves White House press secretary Sean Spicer, who might be on his way out after only 100-some days on the job. Reports have surfaced that Donald John Trump might axe Spicer; that he’s angry with him; that the White House’s chief spokesman has been inarticulate and clumsy during his daily press briefings.

I am going to concede that Spicer might have the toughest job in the federal government. I mean, think of it. He has to interpret the musings of the president of the United States who one might say is, well, a bit inarticulate and clumsy himself.

How does the press spokesman expect to be on top of his game when the president is nowhere close to being on top of his game?

Spicer once served as press flack for the Republican National Committee, which was led by Reince Priebus, who’s now the White House chief of staff. Many other reports are circulating, too, that Priebus might be another victim of a Donald Trump purge of senior White House staffers.

This has been a rough intro to government and public policy for a presidential administration led by someone who spent his entire professional life enriching himself. He has zero public service experience, let alone any knowledge of how government works.

Now he might be getting ready to jettison his press spokesman and also — perhaps — his chief of staff.

You know what I sense? I sense a feeling of relief if the axe falls on both men.

Where in the world is Sean Spicer?

This isn’t how it’s supposed to go.

The president of the United States makes — without question — the most controversial personnel decision of his administration and the White House press secretary is AWOL at the daily briefing for reporters. He’s supposed to “brief” the media on what’s happening in the White House.

Sean Spicer is nowhere to be seen or heard. Instead, he sends out his No. 2 press flack, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, to tell the media that it’s time to “move on” after Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey. He acted without warning. The dismissal surprised the FBI staff and reportedly the White House staff, too!

Why did the president axe the FBI boss? “He wasn’t doing a good job,” said the president. Well, that explains everything, right? Wrong!

The firestorm has erupted in the White House. Spicer reportedly is off doing Navy Reserve duty. Oh, but wait! The Navy says he can reschedule these duties when, um, other duties call — in this case duties involving the commander in chief.

Spicer ought to get back in a hurry

Sean Spicer is getting paid the big bucks to talk to the media. And, no, I don’t mean lecture them about how they’re doing their job and whether they’re telling the president’s story the way he wants it told.

The Comey firing is all over the newspapers and all over TV these days. The former FBI head man was pursuing an investigation involving the Trump presidential campaign and allegations that it might have colluded with Russian government officials/goons to sway the 2016 presidential election.

Except that Vice President Pence says the president’s decision to can Comey had nothing at all to do with the FBI’s probe into Russia’s meddling in the U.S. election.

Do I believe that? Let me think. Umm. No!

The White House’s main press guy needs to speak to the media. He needs to be forthright. He needs to answer direct questions … well, directly.

Spicer earns dubious place in flackery annals

As if we needed proof of the seemingly obvious …

Sean Spicer’s performance this week has confirmed what many Americans have long suspected, which is that he’ll go down in history as one of the most inept White House press flacks in the history of the office.

My goodness. How does one calculate the impact of this man’s performance as he sought to clarify, re-clarify, and then re-re-clarify a statement he made about the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons on civilians?

However, at another level, I feel a bit badly for Spicer. He is merely representative of the most incompetent presidential administration I’ve ever witnessed. Hey, I’m now 67 years of age. I’ve been watching these transitions with some interest now for quite some time. I’ve witnessed presidents assemble governments quickly in the wake of intense national tragedy and national scandal. None of them compares with the bungling boobery  we’ve witnessed with the Donald John Trump administration.

Spicer this week demonstrated precisely the muddled messaging that occurs with startling regularity.

During his daily press briefing, Spicer said — during the week of Passover, for crying out loud! — that Adolf Hitler didn’t use “chemical weapons” on millions of Holocaust victims. Huh?

He implied that Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad’s gassing of civilians somehow was worse than what Hitler did to European Jews prior to and during World War II.

OK, then he backed off of that … more or less. He said he meant to acknowledge that Hitler gassed millions of people, but was comparing it to Assad’s use of aircraft to drop chemical weapons on “innocent victims.” OK. Then, did he mean that the Holocaust victims weren’t, uh, innocent?

No, that’s not what he meant … he said.

Throughout all this stumbling and bumbling, he dropped in the term “Holocaust center” to refer to the Nazi death camps erected throughout eastern and central Europe during World War II.

Social media exploded.

Finally, Spicer spoke to NBC News and offered a fulsome apology for the mistakes he made. I give him great credit for refusing to say, “If I offended anyone … “, which I consider to be the phoniest form of apology one can offer. He took ownership of his inarticulateness.

He came to the White House after serving as press secretary for the Republican National Committee. I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt when Trump selected him. Then, during his first press confrontation, he excoriated the media for reporting that Trump’s inaugural crowd was far smaller than the one that welcome Barack Obama in January 2009.

Actually, young man, the crowd was much smaller. There was no need to scold anyone in the media for reporting the truth. Thus, we heard the term “alternative facts” presented for the first time by another White House adviser, the inimitable Kellyanne Conway.

The president keeps telling us that things are going swimmingly at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., when in fact they are not. The president cannot fill key staff jobs; critical political appointments haven’t been made. So, Mr. President, stop insulting our intelligence by repeating such outright falsehoods about your “fine-tuned machine.”

Now we hear that the annual White House Easter Egg Roll — set for Monday — is in trouble because the administration lacks the staff to assemble an event that has become a staple of first families’ occupancy of the White House.

Speaking of first families, where is the first lady, Melania Trump? Isn’t it her responsibility to put this event together?

I’m actually beginning to pity Sean Spicer. He delivered a clunker of a performance this week. It’s tough being the face and the voice of a presidential administration that doesn’t have a clue.

Everyone has a limit, right, Sean Spicer?

Every man or woman — even White House press secretaries — would have their limits on the dissembling, confusion and outright lies with which he or she must contend.

Isn’t that right, Sean Spicer.

The current White House flack came to the podium today and declared that the House of Representatives would vote tonight on the American Health Care Act.

Then word came out that, nope, ain’t gonna happen — tonight! It’s been delayed. House Republicans are still trying to gather up enough  votes to send Trump/Ryancare to the Senate, where it faces an even less friendly pool of politicians.

Chaos, anyone?

It’s fair to wonder out loud about Sean Spicer, a man for whom I’m beginning to develop a certain level of sympathy. How much more of this can he take? How much longer will he be able to defend a president’s policies and the seat-of-the-pants process that produces them?

I don’t know much about Spicer, other than he served as Republican National Committee press secretary before joining the White House flackery machine.

Still, is this guy reaching his limit?

How long can Spicer keep defending the indefensible?

I believe it’s a reasonable question: How much longer can Sean Spicer keep defending a president who is unable to tell the truth?

Donald J. Trump keeps trotting out whopper after whopper, putting his press secretary in a patently untenable position of having to defend what he must know is a lie.

Brent Budowsky, a contributor to The Hill, posits the notion that Spicer should quit and that he well might become one of the president’s most high-profile casualties in his ongoing war with the truth.

Here is Budowsky’s essay for The Hill.

I believe Spicer has principles. Sadly — in my view, at least — he seems to have taken some sort of secret oath to bury them while he briefs the media about the president’s torrent of untruths.

The Barack Obama wiretapping fiction is the latest example. Spicer surely knows the president doesn’t have a shred of evidence to back up his allegation that Obama wiretapped his offices at Trump Tower. Then he is forced to dance this rhetorical jig with the media about so-called “air quotes” around the word “wiretap,” meaning that Trump didn’t mean what he said.

How long can this guy Spicer, who was Republican National Committee press secretary before joining the White House staff, continue this charade?

Everyone has his or her limits. Everyone. Even White House press spokesmen.