Last night Rachel Maddow said the White House Daily Briefing is general a total snoozefest for her — a pointless exercise that is her cue to go out and get a sandwich — but that she would be tuning in today for the first briefing in one week.
I was disoriented all day because it wasn’t on the C-Span schedule and I thought they were bailing again. I cued up the White House youtube channel, which tells you how many viewers on the channel waiting to watch, and I also was listening for 80 minutes to the frustrated reporters in the room, waiting for the delayed briefing to actually started. Then it was 20 minutes of lies. Pretty anti-climactic actually.
Still, hats off to Kristen Welker who wouldn’t let Sanders hide behind the Parkland shooting — the reason they gave for *canceling* the last scheduled briefing, and then the shield used at the top of this one. Welker was given the first question and launched right into a Mueller question.
Sanders only took 20-minutes worth of questions. So there wasn’t very much anyone could do. Here are the questions the reporters asked:
Sarah goes to the WTF (Worse Than Fox) trio when things get hairy today. The boys at One America, LifeZette, and racist zine Breitbart are more than happy to help her trammel over pointed follow-ups from other reporters in the room.
Also, Mara Liasson seemed to fall asleep in her chair near the end of the briefing, which is basically how I was at work today.
Lastly, some people on the left are being really ugly on Twitter, calling Sarah Huckabee Sanders ugly. We’ve got a long way to go on our misogyny — our whole culture is a toxic soup of it. She’s not ugly, she’s just kind of average-looking and not overly symmetrical — LIKE MOST OF US. Her outfits are fine. When people harp on her looks with nasty, gross memes (that aren’t even clever), the message to women everywhere is “Look perfect or hide yourself away.”
She’s an amoral henchperson for Trump. That’s enough fodder for criticism.
Here are the questions the reporters in the room asked today:
(Francesca Chambers, Mail Online): Thank you, Sarah. I wanted to ask you about the women who came forward today against the President. They first were on a television show and then they were at a press conference. And they said that he should resign, and then also that there should be a congressional investigation. And I know that you’ve said that this has already been litigated in the last election, but I wanted to get your specific reaction to this idea that there should be a congressional investigation into this.
(Kristen Welker, NBC News) Sarah, thank you. I want to follow up on that. But first, a little bit of breaking news we just learned about: The Pentagon apparently will now allow transgender people to enlist in the military beginning January 1st. Your reaction to that? And any follow-up action you’re going to take?
Okay, and one follow-up –
One follow-up very quickly on — just very quickly, Sarah.
Can I just ask you about Nikki Haley’s comments saying that the President –
(Mara Liasson, NPR)I’ll pick that up for you, Kristen.
Nikki Haley, as I’m sure you know, said, when asked does the election mean that’s a settled issue — which you’ve been arguing from the podium here — she said, “I know he was elected, but women should always feel comfortable coming forward and we should all be willing to listen to them,” specifically referring to the accusers of the President. Does the President agree with her?
But he thinks it’s a good thing that the women who accused him are coming forward now, again?
(Jacqueline Alemany, CBS News) I just want to go off of that, Sarah. But the President told Howard Stern in 2005 that he had walked into a teen beauty pageant dressing room where he said that teen contestants had no clothes on because he could sort of get away with things like that. Is that not an admission of sexual harassment—
And the American public —
(Charlie Spiering, Breitbart) Two ISIS attacks in New York City — or ISIS-inspired attacks in New York City just recently. Is the President concerned that there is a growing threat against people inspired by ISIS who have been radicalized online?
(Matthew Nussbaum, Politico) Thank you, Sarah. The President reacted quite angrily over the weekend to a Washington Post reporter’s tweet about crowd size that was quickly deleted. I’m wondering if you could help explain the discrepancy between the President’s reaction to incidents like this, which he calls “fake news” and talks quite a bit about, and his silence on actual disinformation campaigns like Russia ran during the 2016 election to deliberately spread false information. So both his silence on that, and does he recognize the difference between these two?
Does he see a difference between reporters’ mistakes and a disinformation campaign by a foreign government? Does he see a distinction there?
(Jim Acosta, CNN) And I would just say, Sarah, that journalists make honest mistakes and that doesn’t make them fake news. But the question that I –
The President hasn’t –
This wasn’t going to be my question.
You mean like tweeting stuff on the Middle East —
He retweeted something that was completely fake, Sarah. Can he admit it?
(Brian Karem, Sentinel Newspapers)Are you speaking about the President? [this interjection was after Sarah’s long rant on the media being dishonest]
This was not –
I know, I know.
(Jim Acosta again) This is not the line of questioning that I was going down, but can you cite a specific story that you say is intentionally false; that was intentionally put out there to mislead the American people?
Sarah, if I may though, I was going to ask a question about something else.
Well, Sarah, if I may –
Sarah, if I can ask about the President’s accusations –
I know, but I didn’t get a chance to ask the question that I wanted to ask, which is –
— can you just say, once and for all, whether these accusations –
(Jim Stinson, LifeZette) Sarah, a question about investment — investment taxes.
(Jim Acosta, CNN) I think I was within my rights to respond to your attacks on the news media. If that’s okay, I would like to ask the question that I had about these accusations of misconduct against the President. You said that he’s denied them. Can you say whether or not they are false?
[Sarah says: “I’m not going to respond”]
Sarah, some investors are saying the tax reform package favors mutual funds over individual investors. Other critics who want tax reform say the bill will cause some tax increases for a few middle-class tax filers. By a few, I mean maybe tens of thousands, but maybe more. Will the President sign the tax bill, even if there are inadvertent tax increases and some of the criticisms are correct?
(Jon Decker, Fox Radio News) Thanks a lot, Sarah. Tomorrow there is a special Senate election in Alabama. Back on September the 23rd, the President went down to Huntsville, Alabama — campaigned alongside of Luther Strange — and since that time, he never went down in the course of the campaign — the campaign, alongside the Republican nominee, Roy Moore. Was the President embarrassed in terms of campaigning alongside Roy Moore? Is that the reason why we didn’t see him down there in Alabama?
(April Ryan, American Urban Radio Networks) Sarah, what is the disconnect, as it relates to this White House, when it comes to then-candidate Trump bringing the accusers of Bill Clinton to the debate, against Hillary Clinton, and now the accusers of Roy Moore — making these accusations — and his accusers? What’s the disconnect here?
Well, what about his own accusers though? He has accusers as well.
Will he address the American public about this? Because this is spinning, and it’s focused on him now as –
But will he — it’s coming up new and a fresh, and more people are now speaking out. Will –
I understand. But will the President address the nation on this? This is a huge issue, Sarah.
Will the President come out and address this, please?
Sarah, all you have to say is yes or no.
(Trey Yingst, One America News Network) Thank you, Sarah. Today, the suspected terrorist in New York City, he was described as a Bangladeshi immigrant. Bangladesh is not on the President’s travel ban list. Does today’s attack change the way that President Trump is evaluating travel restrictions?
(Olivier Knox, Yahoo! News) Thanks, Sarah. At the top of your remarks about ISIS, about the attack today in New York City, you talked about the need to destroy the ideology, intimating would-be attackers and the actual attackers. What policy changes are required to do that? How do you defeat an ideology that’s been attempted since 9/11 with, really, no great success? What are you doing differently? What can you do differently in order to do that?
(Jessica Stone, CGTN (China)) Thanks, Sarah. Two quick ones on Korea. Do you have an update on sanctions? Last week, you said it would be coming in a number of days. And secondly, Victor Cha was just nominated to be the Republic of Korea Ambassador. Do you have any comment?
(Margaret Brennan, CBS) Sarah, I’m interested in the comment you made about the suspect in New York. Does the White House have any proof that this suspect was radicalized outside of the United States? He’s been a lawful, permanent resident living here for some time.
But why would his chain migration be an issue unless you were saying that something happened outside the U.S.? [she won’t answer]
(Jennifer Jacobs, Bloomberg) On the directive on space the President is going to announce this afternoon, will he call for an increase in spending for NASA, or will there be commercial partnerships? Or will he reduce NASA funding in other areas such as earth science, which includes the study of climate change?
(Cecilia Vega, ABC News) Thanks, Sarah. Two questions. Who were the eyewitnesses who dispute these allegations against the President? And can you stand here right now and say, without a doubt — 100 percent certainty — that the more than dozen women who have come forward to accuse this President of misconduct are lying? Do you wrestle with this personally at all?
(Brian Karem, Sentinel Newspapers) So let me just follow up on that question a little bit. As a woman standing up there talking to us — I know your job is to relay what the President says — have you ever been sexually harassed? And do you understand — and I’m not saying by the President — I’m saying ever. And secondly, do you have an empathy for those who come forward? Because it’s very difficult for women to come forward.
(Zeke Miller, AP) Thanks, Sarah. Following up on the President’s announcement last week on Jerusalem, declaring it’s the capital of Israel, we saw days of protests — sometimes violent protests in the Middle East, changes to the Vice President’s schedule as he goes through the region. Does the White House acknowledge, does the President acknowledge, that that decision increased tensions in an already volatile region?
Sarah, but this is about more than violence. This is about meetings being cancelled. It’s about diplomatic outcry from everyone from — you know, the governments of the United Kingdom, the Pope, and the like. So why is it beneficial to the U.S. interest, as the President declared, if all those groups, all those countries and allies are condemning that announcement?
(Jordan Fabian, The Hill) Yeah, following up on that, President Abbas, as you know, has said he will not meet with the Vice President next week. Does the President have a reaction to that? And doesn’t this mean that the U.S. has effectively taken itself out of the peace process when one side won’t even show up to meet with the United States?
(Philip Crowther, France24) So the last suspects of terrorism were not training in Syria or Iraq. And Thursday, the Russians stopped their operations, said that they’d gotten rid of ISIS in Syria. Saturday, the Iraqi Prime Minister said this fight against ISIS is won. Why would the U.S. still need to fight on the ground?
Called out as SHS left—(something inaudible) the President misrepresented the facts?
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.
April Ryan, American Urban Radio Networks: Sugary and poisonous. I think she might have done one of those “bless your heart” maneuvers.
Cecilia Vega, ABC News: Flat-out said she was thankful for the First Amendment and launched unamusedly into a hard question.
Jenna Johnson, Washington Post: Didn’t even thank Sarah for calling on her, launched into hard question with resting bitch face.
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.
Matthew Nussbaum, Politico: Ignored the gimmick altogether.
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.
Francesca Chambers, Daily Mail Online: Somehow snarky yet sincere.
White guy names Steve: Wearily perfunctory, but then asked lame question.
Young Fox News woman: Played along but redeemed herself somewhat by asking a hardquestion and being assertive about a follow-up.
John Gizzi:Played along, but is sort of in a class of his own.
White guy named Jim:Cheesy, brought up sports
Blake Burman, Fox Business News: Cheesy, brought up sports
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.