Wow. This entire exchange at the WH briefing. Must watch. https://t.co/ZxEEe6e31P
— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) June 27, 2017
White House spokesperson (and Sean Spicer stand-in) Sarah Huckabee Sanders answered a reporter’s question about the recent happenings at CNN to rant against the network’s supposed biases, the proliferation of “fake news,” and the decline of journalism. The network has long been a favorite target of Donald Trump, who initially branded it with the unfortunate label in January, and thanks to his administration’s new press briefing tactics, affiliated reporters like Jim Acosta have begun lashing out. Thanks to a recent story retraction and a hidden camera video, however, Sanders had all the ammunition she needed. (And she was called out for her use of it during the last minute of this video.)
“I think it’s the constant barrage of fake news directed at this president, probably, that has garnered a lot of his frustration,” she began while alluding to CNN’s retracted story about possible Trump-Russia collusion and the ensuing fallout. “There are multiple other instances where that outlet that you referenced has been repeatedly wrong and had to point that out or be corrected. There’s a video circulating now. Whether it’s accurate or not, I don’t know, but I would encourage everybody in this room and frankly everybody across the country to take a look at it.”
The video in question, by conservative activist and convicted felon James O’Keefe, purports to show a conversation with a CNN producer who claims the network’s coverage of possible Trump-Russia collusion is “mostly bullsh*t.” After implicitly referring to it, however, Sanders continued her rant against the network and the media at large. “It’s a disgrace to all of media, to all of journalism. I think that we have gone to a place where if the media can’t be trusted to report the news, then that’s a dangerous place for American. I think that that’s the place that certain outlets are going, particularly for the purpose of spiking ratings.”
The White House spokesperson also criticized news organization for using unnamed sources in their reporting on the matter, another frequent point of contention made by Trump and his administration. (Even though U.S. intelligence agencies and their chiefs have indicated Russia did in fact meddle in the presidential election, and that contacts between Russian agents and the Trump campaign did occur.) Before Sanders could go any further, however, Playboy correspondent Brian Karem countered her critiques with his own.
“Come on, you’re inflaming everybody right here and right now with those words. This administration has done that as well,” he exclaimed. “Any one of us are replaceable, and any one of us, if we don’t get it right, the audience has the opportunity to turn the channel or not read us. You have been elected to serve for four years at least. There’s no option other than that. We’re to ask you questions, you’re here to provide the answers, and what you just did is inflammatory to people all over the country who look at it and say, ‘See! Once again the president is right and everybody else out here is fake media.'”
“Everybody in this room is only trying to do their job,” Karem concluded. Sanders responded that she “disagreed completely” with his exasperation, but other reporters in the room and viewers at home thought otherwise.
Karem himself joined the fray to reiterate his point in 140 characters or less.
Others, meanwhile, recognized how difficult Karem and everybody else’s situation was — especially since repercussions like those faced by the three CNN journalists who left could be enacted for even nodding in agreement.