It’s been amply established that Donald Trump and his White House hate the media. Really, really, really hate the media. After all, whenever the media put out even mildly critical coverage of Trump, the standard response from either Trump or his mouthpieces is (noun) (verb) FAKE NEWS!”
We also know that this White House doesn’t care much for the press actually doing its job and holding it accountable. That was driven home at Friday’s press briefing. Apparently Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders thinks reporters are crossing a line if they want to ask Chief of Staff John Kelly about misstating facts.
In case you missed it, Kelly jumped into the fracas over Trump’s supposed callous remarks to the newly widowed wife of a soldier killed in Niger in a big way on Thursday. He blasted Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, who listened in on the call, as a publicity hound. But Kelly went further and accused the Democrat from north Miami of trying to hog the credit for getting the money needed to build a new federal building named after two slain federal agents. Kelly was at the ceremony announcing funding for the building, and said that he was “stunned” at Wilson’s behavior.
But there’s one problem–it isn’t true. And there’s video evidence to prove it. That video shows Wilson recalling the effort to get the money needed for that building, and praising the two agents for whom it was named.
CBS News chief White House correspondent Chip Reid called this out at Friday’s briefing. Watch what happened next here, courtesy of Time magazine.
Reid got Sanders to admit she’d seen the video. But then Reid pointed out that Sanders should have therefore known about Wilson “effusively praising” the agents, as well as Wilson’s comments about the effort to get the building named for the agents.
Sanders responded in the fashion that has long since proven her to be this White House’s Princess of Lies. She claimed that Wilson made “quite a few comments” that weren’t captured on video, but were “witnessed by many people who were there,” including Kelly. When pressed by Reid, Sanders said that they were “exactly” the kind of statements that Kelly condemned 24 hours earlier.
Reid did what any good journalist ought to do in that situation–ask if Kelly was willing to “come out here and talk about this at some point.” Sanders claimed that Kelly discussed the matter “pretty thoroughly” on Thursday. But when Reid pointed out that Kelly’s facts were wrong, Sanders’ response was breathtaking.
“If you want to go after General Kelly, that’s up to you. But I think that if you want to get into a debate with a four-star Marine general, I think that’s something highly inappropriate.”
No, Sarah. It’s highly inappropriate to claim that someone is above criticism just because he or she is a general. That’s not how any self-respecting democracy operates.
But even without that to consider, if Sanders took a look at her boss’ Twitter feed, she would see a number of instances where he made statements that are now considered “inappropriate” by her definition–such as this attack on Colin Powell in 2016.
I was never a fan of Colin Powell after his weak understanding of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq = disaster. We can do much better!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 15, 2016
And this attack on retired Marine general John Allen, who blasted Trump’s support for torture at the Democratic National Convention.
General John Allen, who I never met but spoke against me last night, failed badly in his fight against ISIS. His record = BAD #NeverHillary
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 29, 2016
The Post went back even further than the campaign and found this swipe Trump took at Obama’s chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Martin Dempsey.
How can General Martin Dempsey tell Obama that delaying the Syria bombardment will have no consequences? He is no Patton or MacArthur.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 3, 2013
Perhaps we should ask Sanders if she now believes these tweets are “inappropriate.” But then again, we’re talking about a woman who claimed James Comey committed “atrocities” against Hillary Clinton–after she skipped and danced on Twitter when the Comey letter was released.
Of course, though, there would be an easy way to solve this problem–if Kelly himself is willing to go on the record. It says a lot about this administration that we even have to wonder if Trump will allow him to do so.
(featured image courtesy Sanders’ Twitter)