First formal press briefing since March 11 was largely off-the-record…
(Jennifer Jacobs, Bloomberg News) White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has been run out of restaurants, publicly taunted for her appearance and, most recently, forced to endure calls for her decapitation from hostile journalists.
But on Thursday she got payback with an epic troll to the puerile press corps—by inviting their children instead.
Sanders hosted children of staffers and journalists brought to the White House for Take Your Sons and Daughters to Work Day, allowing them to sit in their parents’ seats in the briefing room and ask questions.
It marked Sanders’s first formal news conference in 46 days after President Donald Trump gave his blessing in January for her to de-prioritize the media briefings due to the rude and disruptive behavior of White House correspondents like CNN’s Jim Acosta and April Ryan.
While the event was largely off the record, Sanders allowed grown-up journalists watching the event to report two pieces of news: President Donald Trump will deliver a commencement address at the Air Force Academy next month, and NASCAR driver Joey Logano will visit the White House soon.
After fielding questions from the children such as what kind of ice cream Trump likes (two scoops, one vanilla and one chocolate) and what he does for a living (“whatever he wants,” said Sanders’ son, who was at the podium with her), Vice President Mike Pence entered the room.
He was asked how many vacation days he and other White House officials get in a year.
“We work with a president who never stops working,” Pence told the children.
One child responded: “That’s weird.”
Sanders hasn’t taken questions from reporters in the White House’s briefing room since March 11, when she and other officials briefed the press corps on the president’s fiscal 2020 budget proposal.
Unsurprisingly, she has been berated by some members of the partisan media for abandoning the traditional practice of a daily White House briefing.
New York Times editorial writer Michelle Cottle published a piece on Tuesday about Sanders under the headline “Meet the Press? Don’t Bother,” after the press secretary allegedly set a record for the longest stretch without an official news briefing.
It was not immediately clear whether Sanders’s briefing on Thursday was a dig at the Times‘s complaint.
But the impact of social media as a direct link between the president and his audience—as well as Trump’s own do-it-yourself ethos and affinity for showmanship—have somewhat supplanted the need for a traditional press secretary with his administration.
In addition to his frequent tweet-storms on Twitter, the president often takes questions from reporters at events, such as meetings with foreign leaders, and when he departs the White House to board the Marine-1 helicopter—essentially turning the occasions into informal news conferences.
In that sense, journalists at the White House enjoy far more frequent access to Trump than to his recent predecessors.
Reporters often shout to be heard over each other or the engines of the helicopter—and the brief pressers don’t offer the same opportunity for follow-up questions as would more formal news conferences or interviews.
Liberty Headlines’ Ben Sellers contributed to this report.
(c)2019 Bloomberg News. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.