TOWOIT #267: April, Cecilia, Jenna & Zeke

November 20, 2017… Day 305

SHS Briefing #34

There was a bit of a hostage situation in the White House Press Briefing today as Sarah Huckabee Sanders insisted that each reporter must say what he or she was thankful for before a question could be asked. Oh, but first she “joked” that she was thankful for everyone in the room, and then she said “No, but seriously” she was thankful for the military. She really sucks. The whole thing made me cringe down to my toes and called to mind a jovial but sadistic father figure forcing people to do gimmicky things at the dinner table before they can eat.

It must be nice going through life, holding everyone hostage at the lowest common denominator.

I took note of who played along and who didn’t. These things are supposed to be “nice.” Well, it’s not fucking nice. It’s gross and unprofessional and creepy.

Here’s how they responded, in the order of my approval.

  1. April Ryan, American Urban Radio Networks: Sugary and poisonous. I think she might have done one of those “bless your heart” maneuvers.
  2. Cecilia Vega, ABC News: Flat-out said she was thankful for the First Amendment and launched unamusedly into a hard question.
  3. Jenna Johnson, Washington Post: Didn’t even thank Sarah for calling on her, launched into hard question with resting bitch face.
  4. Zeke Miller, Associated Press: Straight-faced, did not play along, ignored her teasing, pressed on, gave her a cold stare moments later when the people around him were laughing at a dumb joke of hers.
  5. Matthew Nussbaum, Politico: Ignored the gimmick altogether.
  6. Margaret Talev, Bloomberg Television: Says she’s also thankful for the First Amendment then chickens out and says something ameliorating that leads to widespread giggling.
  7. Francesca Chambers, Daily Mail Online: Somehow snarky yet sincere.
  8. White guy names Steve: Wearily perfunctory, but then asked lame question.
  9. Young Fox News woman: Played along but redeemed herself somewhat by asking a hard question and being assertive about a follow-up.
  10. John Gizzi: Played along, but is sort of in a class of his own.
  11. White guy named Jim: Cheesy, brought up sports
  12. Blake Burman, Fox Business News: Cheesy, brought up sports
  13. Jon Decker, Fox Radio News: Smarmy and all-in

Here’s that Zeke Miller moment. I cut out Mara Liasson’s laughing face because I was ashamed for her.

Screen Shot 2017-11-20 at 5.53.17 PM

OK, and here are all the questions:

  • [April Ryan, American Urban Radio Networks] “I’m thankful for life. I’m thankful for my children. I’m thankful for twenty years in this job. I’m thankful to be able to talk to you and question you every…single…day. Now my question. I hope you felt the passion of my thankfulness. The question that I have since I didn’t get to ask Secretary Tillerson. There is a black hole when it comes to intelligence where it involves North Korea. And he said, things will get worse until they are ready to talk. With that said, the rhetoric is still amping up. What is the concern about the intelligence that we don’t know about. What do we know, as relates to the nuclear capability of North Korea, and what are the concerns about the things that we don’t know about?
  • And lastly, on Twitter–this back and forth on Twitter–
  • I undertand, but this is a hot story–
  • Does the President regret his tweet–
  • Well, you’re so thankful for all of us–
  • [Francesca Chambers, Daily Mail Online] Well, I am very thankful for you calling on me right now. But I will follow your lead and be thankful for our service members, my brother is a service member, and our police, my dad is a police officer. But I want to ask today about something KellyAnn Conway said this morning on Fox & Friends about the Alabama Senate race. She brought up tax reform and tax cuts and said that the Democrat in the race would not be a vote for tax cuts. And she did not directly endorse the Republican that’s running, Roy Moore. However, it opened the door to something we haven’t really discussed in here yet, which is whether the President would be supportive of a write-in campaign of someone like Luther Strange, someone he supported in the primary, or Jeff Sessions, both of those are going around.
  • I don’t think so–
  • I’m sorry–
  • On the write-in though–
  • Sarah, I’m sorry, on the write-in campaign–
  • Have you said whether the President would support a written-campaign–
  • [Jon Decker, Fox Radio News, being smarmy but then he asks a question she doesn’t want to answer] Thanks Sarah, I’m thankful for my health, my family, my faith, I think I live in the BEST country on the face of the earth, and I’m thankful of course that you address us every day here in the briefing room. My question is also about the Senate race in Alabama. This is an unusual question because normally we wouldn’t ask you about the Republican nominee running for statewide office and whether the President is supportive of the Republican nominee. But my question is just that. Would you be pleased if Roy Moore wins his Senate race in Alabama–would the White House be pleased with that outcome?
  • [Blake Burman, Fox Business News] Thank you Sarah, I am thankful for my wife, who is pregnant with our soon-to-be second child, I’m thankful for my family, my parents, and having it be this week I’m thankful they sent me to the University of Michigan and not Ohio State, Go Blue. My question is on taxes as well. The President seemed to suggest today that hope for Democratic help is all but gone. Do you still think that you can get Democrats on board?
  • [Cecilia Vega, ABC News, the first one not to play along at all]. Thanks Sarah. I am thankful for the First Amendment.
  • April Ryan: Ooh, YES. We’re thankful for that.
  • Cecilia Vega: Kellyann Conway– [Sarah Huckabee Sanders says, “I think we all are,” meaning grateful for the First Amendment]
  • April Ryan: Which part of it though.
  • Cecilia: Kellyann Conway was here on the North Lawn and she warned Alabama voters not to be fooled by Doug Jones. So is that the position of this White House, that voters are better off voting for someone who is accused of assaulting teenage girls, than a Democrat?
  • But she made a clear suggestion of who they should vote for–
  • [White guy named Jim] First, I am grateful for my daughter and my family and the fact that I went to Ohio State instead of the University of Michigan. But my question is, does the President really regret intervening in the case of the UCLA basketball players, and what message does that send to other U.S. citizens who may be held captive by foreign governments?
  • [White guy named Steve] Sarah, I’m thankful for surviving our twelve days in Asia in one piece. Happy to be back here. The President has not made a weekly radio broadcast in more than a month now. Have they been scrapped by this administration, and if so, why?
  • [Jenna Johnson, Washington Post] Um, Sarah, I have a really quick Roy Moore question and then I want to ask you about welfare reform. Has the President talked to Roy Moore since November 9, which is the day that these accusations first came out?
  • Yeah, and then today the President said that welfare reform is desperately needed–what exactly is he talking about? Is he talking about food stamps? Is he talking about Medicaid? What is he talking about?
  • [Zeke Miller, Associated Press] On Friday the President released an expanded list of potential selectees for the Supreme Court if a vacancy opens up–[Sarah interrupts him and says, “Zeke you broke the rule of not saying what you’re thankful for.” He forges ahead anyway.] — Can you explain why the President felt it was necessary to add to the list he put out during the campaign, and also could you address concerns over the diversity of the President’s picks across the judiciary and whether the White House values or doesn’t value diversity?
  • And this administration, according to an AP analysis, does lag the previous three administrations in diversity of judicial nominees put forward. Can you say why that would be the case?
  • [Margaret Talev, Bloomberg Television] Thank you, um, I’m thankful also for the First Amendment. Um. And for this exercise. [SHS makes jokes, people giggle, and Zeke Miller just gives her a cold stare] Can you tell us whether the President or the White House actively encouraged the Justice Department to move forward with the federal anti-trust suit against the AT&T / Time-Warner deal?
  • Does he have a view on that?
  • [Young white woman for Fox News] Well first my gratitude. I’m grateful to fill in for our chief, John Roberts. And I’m grateful to only have a month left. I have a bun in the oven. It’s my first one, so I have a lot to learn. My question is back to the UCLA basketball players. [Low murmur heard from April Ryan: “Thank you.”] President Trump over the weekend, he called them “ungrateful” and I’m just curious because the players already apologized in their briefing last week. So what more would the President like to hear from them? What would satisfy him?
  • And does he believe he really should have left the players in jail?
  • [Matthew Nussbaum, Politico] So, following on that, if that’s not how he feels, then why did he say that he should have left them in jail? What are we supposed to take from that?
  • [John Gizzi] I’m thankful for the position I have and for my colleagues who are my friends, I’m thankful for my father–96-years old and going strong–and to my wife, my heroine, thankful to her for saying yes on the fourth request. My question is about Zimbabwe. Will the administration recognize the new regime that apparently is being led by General Chiwanga in Zimbabwe and will there be any interaction with the new government in Hariri, specifically on their cutting back on influence of China and North Korea?

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