Sarah Huckabee Sanders walked out to the podium twice this week and once again spread a false narrative about former FBI Director James Comey. She accused him of illegally leaking information to the public when she and everyone in the present administration have absolutely no proof of it – and in fact have absolute proof that when Comey leaked memos he wasn’t leaking classified information and therefore he didn’t do anything illegal.
It doesn’t matter. The President’s base will buy it. They’ll believe it. They’ll endorse it. They will repeat it. They will cheer it and they will yell “Fake News” at anyone who says otherwise.
A man I’ve known for 20 years used to always ask me about the news. “What’s going on?” He’d ask. I’d tell him and he would thank me. I never led him astray. I never injected an opinion. I’d just tell him. If he offered an opinion, then I’d merely inform him if I happened to know if he was right or wrong based on the facts. Now he tells me I’m a “Libtard” and part of the “Mainstream Media” and “Fake Media” with an agenda whenever I tell him the news.
It matters little what I say to him, so I say little.
To tell the truth, I’m becoming numb. When Sanders huffed and puffed about Comey, everyone in the press room knew she was lying – or excuse me – giving us “alternative facts,” and no one called her on it.
We ignore some of the garbage flung our way otherwise we’d never get beyond the opening statement made by Sanders in most press briefings.
It’s also necessary to have a little numbness in order to cope with the assault on your senses the current administration gives you every day. Even when it’s quiet at the White House – it is merely a relative term.
So, it is of little surprise to us when Sanders also accused Hillary Clinton of inaccuracies and spreading a false narrative in a book Clinton wrote during the same press briefing where Sanders offered an opinion on firing a journalist who apparently called the president a racist.
You get hit with so much that, as Katy Tur said, it’s a constant struggle to remember what’s at the back of your mind.
That’s every day. You hold your hand up to call Sanders on some inaccurate information and in the mean time she hits you with another bit of vile flotsam that makes you forget the first piece of errant information that caused you to raise your hand and made you upset in the first place.
I recently exchanged emails with an old friend. Sam Donaldson covered the White House for years and says he had it much easier than we have it in the press room today. Without telling tales out of school, I will merely say Sam offered support for everyone covering the White House. He too says there has been nothing like the current president.
For us there, it is difficult to see Sanders tell us she only speaks for the president, and then offer us an opinion on firing a sports journalist. Coercion and bombast are the trademarks we deal with as we watch the White House allow the cameras to be turned on so we can witness another day of manipulation in furthering a cause many see as counterproductive to our national interest.
We, as reporters, are merely reacting – and struggling hard to get answers. But there are few if any forthcoming from an administration filled with such petulant and whiny children.
Thus it becomes easy to match the vitriol with vitriol - to become upset and to forget the very reason you showed up there in the first place. So much is going wrong you want to swing at every easy pitch.
Having the White House spokesman use the podium to call for the firing of a reporter crosses a line that shouldn’t even be approached.
Remember this is the president who steadfastly refused to distance himself from white supremacists in any meaningful way while easily threatening immigrant “Dreamers” and anyone who isn’t white.
Still trying like Katy Tur to think about what’s in the back of your mind while you deal with that?
Well, the Robert Mueller investigation is getting interesting. Trump’s son, his son-in-law, his former campaign manager and even a former General appear to be heavily involved in questionable activities. And, former Chief Strategist Stephen Bannon recently told 60 Minutes that firing Comey was the single worst decision in modern politics – further muddying the Russian waters.
Why? Because it points out the problems inherent in this administration that all the bombast, lying and spin control cannot cover: The president is up to his ears in the Russian scandal.
Every move he makes. Every breath he takes and every tweet he spews amount to sound and fury signaling nothing.
It isn’t the economy stupid as James Carville famously said – It’s about the Russian investigation. So when Huckabee spouts her gibberish - even taking shots at us - it would do us well to remember it’s all about the Russian investigation – all of it. Everything else is just blue smoke and mirrors.