TOWOIT #334: “But based on what evidence?”

May 30, 2018.

Today Sarah Sanders was 10 minutes late to the room, gave non-answers for 15 minutes, and departed. She seemed especially brusque about not taking follow-ups, and it really laid bare the way she uses that tactic to never actually answer a question or clear anything up.

It wasn’t just me that noticed it. Later in the day, the Washington Post put up a funny (irritating) video showing her over and over again brushing off reporters to say that she had to keep moving because time is short.

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“… manufactures urgency to avoid answering reporters’ questions”

Part of the reason she’s “short on time” is because she’s chronically late. I started this graph earlier in 2018 to show in RED the amount of time the reporters sit waiting for her after the appointed start time, and in TEAL the amount of time she takes questions. They often sit and wait for longer than she is at the podium.

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The Washington Post video also included this bar chart:

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Sean Spicer’s were so long because of his long-winded accusatory rants between the questions.  Also he’d read for 12 torturous minutes at the top of the briefing.

The thing that seemed most talked about after the briefing is that there was a child reporter in the room, and he asked what the administration was doing about school shooting. Sarah Sanders choked up as she gave a non-answer.

I like to track the number of viewers on the White House youtube channel in real time throughout the briefing. Normally the number of viewers continues upward throughout the briefing, albeit at different rates. I am pretty sure that the people watching are mostly there to watch Sarah own the libs. Because of the ratio of thumb’s up to thumb’s down, and because I think non-Trumpists aren’t in the habit of going to White House media for ANYTHING.

Today’s briefing had middle of the road viewership compared to other days, but as the little boy was talking about school shootings, the numbers of viewers just started to plummet. I was imagining all these indignant senior citizens just turning that crap right off (“I didn’t come here for this! I came here to watch Sarah own the libs!”). Here’s what it looked like:

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Anyway, here are the questions from the reporters today, from those glorious fifteen minutes of one question only, no follow-ups, fuck you:

  • (Jonathan Karl, ABC News) Sarah, now that Trey Gowdy, who has actually seen all the classified information on what the FBI was doing, says that there is nothing to the allegations that they were spying on the Trump campaign. And, in fact, Gowdy says that the FBI was doing exactly what they should have been doing. Given what Trey Gowdy has said, is the President prepared now to retract his allegation that the FBI was spying on his campaign?
  • But Gowdy was in the briefing. He knows what was done. And he is saying that these allegations are baseless, that there was no spying on the Trump campaign. (She says here, for the second time, that deputy director of the FBI was fired for misconduct)
  • But that has nothing to do with — 
  • But based on what evidence? What evidence does he have?
  • (Steve Holland, Reuters) What does Secretary Pompeo need to hear from the North Koreans today at the meeting in New York for the summit to go forward? (Steve, you should have asked Jonathan’s brushed-aside question again — what evidence?)
  • And a follow-up. Do you think it will take place now — the summit? Or is there a denuclearization plan taking shape?
  • (Zeke Miller, Associated Press) Sarah, two questions for you. First, on North Korea.  In addition to their nuclear program, North Korea also maintains other weapons of mass destruction — chemical and biological weapons. Does the President intend to raise those in a summit with Kim Jong Un?
  • And —
  • (Francesca Chambers, Mail Online) Thank you, Sarah. I do have two, if you’ll indulge me quickly. Number one, going back to —
  • Okay, I’ll make it all one question. (Laughter.) On North Korea and the possible summit, can you tell us what your deadline is at this point for deciding whether or not that will or will not happen? And on a completely separate topic, Kim Kardashian is supposed to be at the White House today.  Can you tell us a little bit more about that?  Who she plans to meet with.  It’s being reported that she’ll be meeting with Jared Kushner, as well as President Donald Trump.
  • (woman, unseen) If the Attorney General is not living up to the President’s expectations, if he is so frustrated with him, why doesn’t he just fire him instead of sort of nursing this grievance so publicly?

SANDERS:  Look, the President has made his viewpoint very clearly known, and I don’t have any personnel announcements at this point.

  • (Steven Portnoy, CBS Radio News) Sarah, the President said during his Right to Try legislation signing that drug makers will soon be announcing what he called a voluntary massive drop in their prices. Is there anything more you can tell us on exactly when this is going to happen, and how widespread this massive drop in prices will be?
  • (Kelly — not sure who this is) Has the President spoken to Roseanne Barr, who we know has been a longtime friend of his? And why did he choose to address the ABC apology, instead of the underlying issue of concerns about a racist comment that she tweeted out? (Sarah’s answer: unemployment is down and the President is the President of everyone…also the press is super unfair… super long, weird, specific, warbly rant… apparently, A LOT of people owe TRUMP an apology, and that is the REAL issue)
  • (Matthew Nussbaum, Politico) Thank you, Sarah. Does the White House have any evaluation of its own of the recently released study estimating that more than 4,600 people died in Puerto Rico as a result of Hurricane Maria? And if that number is accurate, does this indicate the administration’s response to the storm was inadequate?
  • (Emerald Robinson, One America News) Thank you, Sarah. Does the administration have any concerns or fear any risk in continuing to push China on these tariffs in trade, considering their relationship with North Korea ahead of talks and what the President has said about that second meeting between President Xi and Kim Jong Un?
  • (John Gizzi, Newsmax) Thank you, Sarah. Given the turbulent political situation in Italy right now, is the administration monitoring it, as well as the devastating effect it appears to be having on the markets in Southern Europe? And will the President consider strong intervention in that situation through the IMF, very much as the previous administration did with Greece two years ago?
  • (Jennifer, but can’t see her) On the steel and aluminum tariffs, the extension ends again soon.  When do you think you’ll have an announcement on what will happen next?  And is there any chance that there will be another extension?
  • (Mara Liasson, NPR News) Can you just clarify the comments about Trey Gowdy?  You said there’s still cause for concern, meaning about what the President says is a spy who infiltrated his campaign? Or a cause for concern, in general, about the FBI? (This is a poorly worded question for Sarah Sanders. Makes it even easier for her to not answer)
  • Can you just explain who was in the campaign? What is he referring to when he said they were in the campaign? What does that mean?
  • (Blake Burman, Fox Business) Thank you. Something appeared to have happened on trade, because last weekend Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said the trade war was on hold. Fast-forward a few days after that, there was the threat of tariffs now on auto imports. Fast-forward a few days after that, there’s now going to be this $50 billion in tariffs. So what exactly happened from the trade war being on hold, to a week later, now it appears the trade war might be back on?
  • (Philip) Sarah, two things. First off, my young colleague here, he has a very interesting question. Second, I just wanted to know, how confident does the President feel that he’s going to have an agreement on NAFTA before the summit?
  • At my school, we recently had a lockdown drill. One thing that affects mine and other students’ mental health is the worry about the fact that we or our friends could get shot at school. Specifically, can you tell me what the administration has done and will do to prevent these senseless tragedies?
  • (Eamon Javers, CNBC) Sarah, you mentioned Bob Iger a moment ago and asked where is his apology to the White House for criticism of the President and some of the incidents that you cite. Has anyone at the White House been in touch with Bob Iger or anyone at ABC on those incidents in specific and the cancellation of the Roseanne program, specifically, as well?
  • (Andrew Beatty, AFP) Thank you very much. You talked about denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula being the subject of discussion — the main subject of discussion in Singapore. Does that include the positioning of U.S. nuclear bombers and submarines that aren’t necessarily on the Peninsula but cover the Peninsula, as it were?
  • When you talk about that, you’re talking about North Korea, though, not U.S. weapons systems, correct?
  • (Saagar Enjeti, Daily Caller) Sarah, has the President received any classified briefing on the details of the intelligence that were presented to Trey Gowdy? And if he still believes that there is cause for concern, why doesn’t he just declassify the documents? (Weird question, Saagar. The president shouldn’t be able to see that information. Also what are you doing at the Daily Caller? Who made you read Ayn Rand and forgot to tell you she a phase for teenagers? Who hurt you, Saagar???) 

Postscript: This briefing was outdone by one in Ukraine today:

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headline clipped from the WaPo

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