Sean Spicer’s briefing was listed on C-Span as Audio Only. Then it had the little “Live” button next to it but when you clicked on it, it said “Program Unavailable” which is not normal.
Then there was a headline that the White House asked outlets not to broadcast it live but said it would be available at some point. That was a real departure. A few outlets broadcast it live anyway, but some of them had weird things like the Veteran Affairs guy on camera, but then it cuts to just a picture of Sean Spicer, like there’s going to be audio, but the audio is only 12 minutes of elevator music.
Then on youtube I found the briefing, which was very weird. Very weird. All questions on Russia will now be addressed to the President’s private lawyer.
And “covfefe”? That was intentional, not a typo. This caused howling and laughing and exclamations of “WHAT??” from the reporters. They were calling out, “What does it mean?” and “What is covfefe?” and “Why did it stay up so long?”
Most of the questions were about the Paris climate accord, but there was also a question about how Ted Nugent called for Obama to be killed and then got invited to the White House by Trump. Sean, incredibly wearily, was just like “Yeah, I don’t know anything about Ted Nugent saying that.” And then you hear April Ryan’s stern voice, “Ted Nugent did say that, Sean.” He was already moving along to the next question he wouldn’t really answer.
Later, the briefing was removed altogether from the C-Span agenda for today, including the Veteran Affairs part of the briefing, which was weird. And then over on the White House website, a transcript of the Veteran Affairs part of the briefing was there, but it was like the Sean Spicer part of the briefing never existed.
“Like a brown bird nesting in a Texaco sign, I got a point of view”
— Silver Jews song lyric
— (Also, me)
I feel sheepish after I get too angry or emotional in my blog. It makes me feel like I smeared my weakness around on a page and taped it up in the hall of the high school where it isn’t safe for it to be. I have a lot of actual personal essays sketched out (as opposed to blurted TMI non sequiturs). If I can build up enough of a head of steam to last me through the end of my workday until bedtime, I’ll write a couple of those up. These have just been gnarly days of chafing at misogyny, figuring out how to do intersectional feminism, watching our institutions and freedoms crumble, staring into the abyss of my own white complicity, and wedging myself between Republicans and people who call me a corporatist neoliberal. This is my pillow book of Sei Shonagon, ok? This is my tear-soaked sleeve. I am cutting off my hair and moving to a monastery. I don’t know, I just took a seminar on the Tale of Genji when I was a freshman in college and I hearken back to it when I feel myself getting dramatic. I’m sure Devin Nunes is feeling like an embattled Heian prince right now too.
Ivanka Trump will take an official federal job in the White House after all (instead of just being a volunteer). Now if only Carl Icahn would do the same.
Today is Brexit day. Masses of people swamped by their own delusions. Good luck to you, UK.
According to The Hill, people who know Devin Nunes are saying that he is acting unhinged and aggressive, and hasn’t explained to anyone why he canceled those committee meetings. I saw him in the Ways and Means committee footage last night, sort of hunched over and glowering. He didn’t speak, it wasn’t his particular show. He just sat there listening to his colleagues talk about how something is wrong with the administration and Russia.
A lot of other disheartening stuff also happened. But Seattle is suing the federal government over the whole sanctuary city thing. And here’s something from the financial site ZeroHedge which beats back the thorny hedge of our collective self-gaslighting:
So, the green line starts diverging from the red line right after the election last November. The green line, which goes up and up? That’s data based on sentiment, that’s how everybody feels about how things are going economically. How much people want to buy things, for instance. That’s part of what drove the stock market rally that’s been attributed to Trump and his agenda. If you separate out the hard data — which is actual, quantifiable, after-the-fact economic results, you can see that has just gone along like it has been. Meaning that large swaths of the investing class have gone gaga on “Trump is great and will cut taxes” euphoria. But facts still matter, numbers still matter, and the hard data just says “everything is ok, about like it has been.” I find that reassuring.
The Republican chairman and leading Democrat on the Senateintelligence committee gave a joint press conference today. They countered all the House committee drama by being bipartisan, level-headed, and gravely concerned about Russia. They also countered it by referencing it directly and saying “things are different over here” (I paraphrase). And when they said they would get to the bottom of things and follow the facts where they lead, I want to believe them. I am more likely to believe them because Maxine Waters believes them.
Gallup has Trump approval ratings at 35% today.
C-Span screen grab:
OK, here’s the straight skinny. Questions asked of Sean Spicer at the press briefing today:
Amy Siskind is doing a great job of writing a list of strange things happening, changing, and shifting in the U.S. since the election. I want to print them all out and put them in a three-ring binder. And also I should pick up a copy of that book that helps you skip the middle ages and get back to 19th century technology if everything goes totally blammo.
Things don’t seem to be going great for Rex Tillerson in Korea. He’s got one lone reporter with him. His budget got cut almost as much as the EPA.
The budget has been a ghastly spectacle today. Mick Mulvaney and Sean Spicer, feeling plucky and Irish throughout, managed to be so blatantly, cheerfully heartless on live television. It’s all been trending on Twitter all night. Stuff like feeding poor children and the aged. Stuff like that. Terrible optics. I don’t know. I’m in a real “we’re all gonna die” mood, but before I go, I’m going to write about podcasts and the White House Press Briefing.
“Sean, wait, listen–can we put it to REST, Sean ?!”
–a reporter to Sean Spicer as he left the Briefing Room without giving any reasonable answers on what the hell is the deal with Trump’s wiretapping claims.
Oh yeah, I have to tell you that the White House Press Corp was kept jammed in their tiny room in a state of readiness for over an hour, waiting for Sean Spicer to keep his appointment with them. Fifteen minutes before the briefing was supposed to start, the House and Senate Intelligence committees released their bluntly worded statement that they did not believe there was surveillance of any kind of Trump Tower, before or after the election.
I had C-span running and one earbud in, but had minimized the screen and was just doing my work. I lost track of time so was really surprised when I looked up and realized that 42 minutes had gone by since the briefing was supposed to start and everyone was still just in the room waiting.That’s when I brought the screen back up and started paying attention.
42 minutes— reporters standing at the front communicating with their networks. They are talking about a Spicer call earlier today on the conservative Laura Ingraham talk radio show, trying to intuit what he would say about the intelligence committees and what was going on behind the closed door of the briefing room.
There’s also talk of college basketball and brackets.
50 minutes— John Roberts’s cell phone rings, and the ring tone is “I want it all” by Queen and everyone bursts into laughter.
Someone sings a few bars in a low alto–it sounds like a spiritual.
A hush falls on the room, and then a semi-maniacal, half-stifled giggle rises up.
Someone yawns loudly.
53 minutes— Peter Alexander is standing at the front, facing the camera and saying to his network, “I wouldn’t be surprised if he puts it back on the media today,” and then later, “I think he’ll probably come out and say something scripted.”
54 minutes— the room looks so small, so cramped. No one has even updated them.
55 minutes–they’ve started to talk about how their phones are dying, and beginning to look into the outlet situation.
56 minutes— a woman’s voice saying “everybody stretch.”
57 minutes— the sound of something falling with a thud and a woman groans. It’s starting to feel like they are trapped in an elevator.
58 minutes— a man’s voice, gasping “wa-a-a-a-t-er…. w-a-a-a-a-ah-ah-ah-ter.” Someone’s reading a physical newspaper cover to cover.
59 minutes–“Can we order a pizza?”
60 minutes–Peter is talking to NBC again and saying, “I think we can presume that they’re formulating what they’ll say” and then “…increasingly appearing to be a made-up claim.”
61 minutes–Jim Acosta is saying to the CNN audience, “I’m not sure if they’re trying to run out the clock or what.”
Somebody hums “Final Countdown”
And then the briefing started. I will add in the Mick Mulvaney budget stuff later.