Tag Archives: White House press office

WH press flack whiffs a home-run pitch

Sarah Huckabee Sanders was served a pitch that she should have hit out of the park. Instead, she whiffed.

It came from CNN White House reporter Jim Acosta, the current chief “enemy of the people,” according to the president and Sanders, his press secretary.

Acosta asked Sanders directly whether she believes as Donald John Trump believes that the media are the “enemy of the people.”

Sanders didn’t take the bait. She didn’t answer the question. She didn’t stand for the right of the media to do their job as prescribed by the U.S. Constitution. She didn’t challenge the notion that the media — which no president has ever liked — is the “enemy.”

The White House press secretary today revealed a potentially shameful side of herself.

See the Sanders-Acosta exchange on the link here.

I don’t know whether Sanders actually believes the crap she defends in the White House press briefing room, or whether she feels some sort of blind fealty to the head of state. Perhaps there’s a third option, that she might fear being humiliated by the president if he perceives that she is straying too far off the marked trail.

Whatever the case, the White House press officer could have assuaged many Americans’ fear that the White House has taken its war against the media to a frightening new level.

She didn’t.

Shame.

WH chief of staff angry over breakfast menu? Wow!

Sarah Huckabee Sanders has just notched my all-time favorite lame response from the White House press office.

It’s a beaut, man!

White House chief of staff John Kelly was seen grimacing, looking at the floor and fidgeting while sitting two seats away from the president, who was lambasting Germany over what Donald Trump contended was Russia’s total control over our strategic ally.

The person next to Kelly, U.S. North Atlantic Treaty Organization ambassador Kay Bailey Hutchison — the former U.S. senator from Texas — was seen looking around as if to suggest she’d rather be anywhere other than where she was at the moment.

As the New York Daily News reported: As Trump laid into Germany, Kelly pursed his lips, looked down and appeared generally uncomfortable. Kelly seemed particularly unsettled when Trump made the “captive” comment, firmly pressing his lips together and staring off into the distance.

Someone then asked Sanders about Kelly’s apparently visceral response, that some had interpreted as extreme discomfort over what he was hearing from the president.

Sanders’s response? She said Kelly “was displeased because he was expecting a full breakfast and there were only pastries and cheese.”

Isn’t that a great retort? Doesn’t that qualify for entry into the press secretaries’ hall of shame for lame responses?

It’s got my vote. To be candid, I thought Sanders’s response to the question was quite, um, creative.

Stand tall, Sarah.

WH upset with leak more than crass comment?

There you have it. The White House press office is angrier that a crass and tasteless remark by a staffer about an ailing U.S. senator/war hero was leaked than it is about the remark itself.

That’s how I read press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders’s reported response to the remark.

White House aide Kelly Sadler said in a private meeting that no one should worry about Sen. John McCain’s opinion of CIA director nominee Gina Haspel because “he’s dying anyway.” McCain doesn’t like Haspel’s role in the U.S. campaign of “intense interrogation”; he calls it torture and given his own experience being tortured as a prisoner during the Vietnam War, he hates the idea. Haspel didn’t disavow the interrogation tactics to McCain’s liking and he said so.

That’s when Sadler popped off about McCain’s battle against brain cancer.

Sanders said Sadler’s remarks are “unacceptable” but then reportedly scolded the White House staff for leaking the remark in the first place.

A more appropriate topic to be discussed with White House staffers would be that (a) they are public employees answerable to the taxpayers and that (b) they need to be mindful of all the things they say, even in private.

If a chump like Sadler believes Sen. McCain is “dying anyway,” she is entitled to think those thoughts privately. Many of us out here beyond the Beltway disagree vehemently with her saying it out loud, even in a room full of other White House employees behind closed doors.

I get that Sen. McCain is an imperfect man. He was a rascal while attending the U.S. Naval Academy. He was known during his time as an aviator to be occasionally not play by every rule in the book. But then he got shot down in 1967 and endured more pain, suffering, anguish and heartache than any man should endure during his more than five years as a POW in North Vietnam.

Now he is fighting for his life. He has served with honor and distinction in service to his country for decades.

So, the White House press flack is concerned about the leaks? She should be many times more concerned that a White House staffer has a serious insensitivity streak that needs urgent repair. If she can’t control her mouth, then she needs to find another job.

How does she do her job?

“We give the very best information that we have at the time.”

So said White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders in response to a question about her boss, Donald Trump, and his “blatant disregard for the truth.”

The issue of the day deals with Trump’s repayment of hush money to porn queen Stormy Daniels. Trump has denied making the payment to his lawyer, Michael Cohen, who forked over the money to Daniels in the first place; Sanders has parroted the president’s denial.

Now all of that has been tossed aside.

I’ll stipulate once again that I have been no fan of Sanders’s conduct as White House press flack. However, truth be told (no pun intended), she is being asked to do the impossible. She cannot speak the truth because she is not given the truth up front from the president or those who comprise his inner circle.

According to Politico: Not just in Thursday’s briefing, but overall, “the best information we have at the time” has become something of a go-to line for Sanders — her version of apparently throwing up her arms in the face of a president who has proved not only impulsive and prone to changing his mind, but who has exhibited an unprecedented propensity for falsehoods. As his official spokesperson, Sanders’ performance in Tuesday’s briefing left some reporters further questioning not just the president’s credibility, but also that of his press secretary and the entire White House.

I won’t go nearly so far as to express sympathy for Sanders. She surely had to know what she was buying into when she replaces Sean Spicer as White House press secretary. It well might be that Spicer warned her up front: Be careful, Sarah; the boss can’t tell the truth … about anything!

I hate believing that Sanders is a willing participant in the president’s penchant for prevarication. Her willingness to remain at her post, though, seems to give critics such as yours truly little choice to believe the worst in the White House press secretary.

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.