When White House press secretary Sarah Sanders held her first media briefing in nearly three weeks on Monday, mainstream media reporters hit her and Kevin Hassett, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA), with a barrage of overtly anti-Trump questions.
Media members have complained for weeks about the lack of briefings during the latter half of August and the beginning of September.
ABC News’ Katherine Faulders and Alexander Mallin wrote a piece on August 31 called “The summer of disappearing White House press briefings.”
CNN’s melodramatic Jim Acosta tweeted Monday, “A thing once known as the Press Briefing has been added to the schedule at 2pm, WH says.”
A thing once known as the Press Briefing has been added to the schedule at 2pm, WH says.
— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) September 10, 2018
CNN’s Kaitlan Collins even complained about the length of prep time White House officials gave reporters prior to Monday’s briefing.
She tweeted, “It has been 19 days since the White House last held a press briefing. They just gave reporters a 40 minute heads up that there will be one at 2:00 p.m. today.”
It has been 19 days since the White House last held a press briefing. They just gave reporters a 40 minute heads up that there will be one at 2:00 p.m. today.
— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) September 10, 2018
And when Sanders did hold September’s first briefing, mainstream media reporters peppered her with a series of pointed questions with few or no attempts to appear neutral at all.
Here are the eight most biased questions from September’s first press briefing:
1.) Liar? “I’m assuming have you read Bob Woodward’s book,” The Daily Mail’s David Martosko asked Sanders, referring to the forthcoming book “Fear: Trump in the White House.”
“I know a lot of us have. Can we expect, other than repeating denials from [Secretary of Defense James] Mattis, [White House chief of staff John] Kelly, [lawyer] John Dowd — can we expect the White House to give us a list of all of the things in the book that are wrong and that qualify Woodward to be a liar?”
Sanders replied, “I think that would be a complete and utter waste of our time.”
Woodward portrays Trump’s White House as chaotic, unpredictable, and full of staffers who disrespect the president and talk behind his back, according to all reports. Trump and other White House officials have pushed back against the book’s claims, many of which cite anonymous sources.
2.) Credibility battle? Martosko also asked, “Does the president think he could win a credibility battle with Bob Woodward, who is an august member of the press corps and helped take Richard Nixon down and is a legend? How can he win that credibility battle?”
Sanders patiently responded, “Once again, I would rather take the actual on-record account from people we have here, who have been working in this building, who have interacted with the president day in, day out … not disgruntled former employees who refuse to put their name on things when they come out to attack the president.”
3.) Credible voice? And Martosko asked, “Is the president still a credible voice?”
Sanders replied, “Absolutely.”
4.) Honest broker? CBS News’ Steven Portnoy asked Sanders, “The Palestinian ambassador to the U.S. accuses this country of murdering the peace process and undermining its role in the peace process. The State Department says that it’s not retreating from our efforts to achieve a lasting and comprehensive peace. Which is it? How is the United States still an honest broker in this project?”
Portnoy referred to Trump’s decision to close the Washington, D.C., office of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) amid ongoing peace talks among the U.S., Israel, and the Palestinian regime.
“Certainly, we have been very upfront throughout the process and the fact that we want to see peace. We want to have those conversations. We want to help broker that deal. And we’re going to continue pushing forward. Beyond that I don’t have anything specific on it today,” Sanders replied.
5.) Too close to Israel? Portnoy pressed on, “The Palestinians are saying that the U.S. can no longer be an honest broker. This is another example they say of the fact that the U.S. is too aligned with Israel. Is that not the case?”
“Certainly, we have a great deal of support with our friend and ally in Israel. But, again, we are as committed today as we have ever been to the peace process,” Sanders reiterated.
6.) Open door? NBC News’ Hallie Jackson followed up on Portnoy’s question, asking, “And you say the door continues to be open, that you are still working on it. But is it realistic for the president to believe he can actually achieve peace in the Middle East in his first term in office as he has promised to do, something that his son-in-law is working on as well, when the administration is taking steps that Palestinians themselves have said do not help?”
Sanders replied, “Again, certainly we are very much committed to the process and we are still hopeful we can get there.”
7.) Coincidence? Jackson also asked Hassett, “You are coming out, obviously talking about the economic numbers in our first briefing here in nearly three weeks. It seems like it might be timed to President Obama’s speeches on Friday and Saturday, in which he talked about the economy and some of these very issues. Is that why you are here today, or is that just a coincidence?”
Hassett replied, “Thank you for asking that actually, because Sarah can tell you that I’ve been pushing her to let me show the slides for quite a while, that we’ve updated them for recent data, but that in fact I don’t know about the three-week lag. I think it has something to do with the fact that sensible people sometimes in the White House take a break in August and there is some vacation-taking at the time.
8.) Trump directs? Jackson also asked Hassett, “The president also, and I’m curious about your views as an economist on this, has told private companies — Apple, Amazon, the NFL — how to run their business. Do you believe that is appropriate for a president to do? Do you believe that stimulates economic growth for a president to be dictating how private companies run their stuff?”
Jackson appeared to be referring to Trump’s various tweets on the companies and controversial business decisions they have made.
“The president has strong opinions about everything,” Hassett replied. “I think that his strong opinions sometimes stretch into areas that are outside of the places that CEA has any purview.”
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