Sanders to the press corps: Say pretty please

At Monday’s White House press briefing, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said that before a reporter could ask a question he must state something he is thankful for in honor of the holiday this week. I shuttered when I heard this, which was more than a request but more like a conductor tapping her baton.

Then Ms. Sanders went on to say what she was thankful for before calling on the first reporter. I anxiously awaited a smart-ass response or his ignoring her command. Then, that reporter actually said things he was thankful for. All the reporters called on did the same ranging from being thankful for their spouse and children to being thankful for whatever. They took her “request” seriously.

Until, she called on an ABC reporter who said what I hope I would have said: she was thankful for the First Amendment. I wish every one of those reporters called on said the same thing to use Sanders’ condescending request to send a clear message to her and her boss.

I said to a friend at the time, can you imagine Sam Donaldson, Helen Thomas or Chris Wallace going along with such a charge from a White House staffer?

I was embarrassed for the reporters as I watched. But, they did not seem embarrassed at all, one even using the opportunity to announce on national TV that he was thankful that his wife is pregnant.

Really, folks? Are you going to snap to when the press secretary makes other such requests? What if she next says, “Before you can ask a question, you must name a trait in President Trump that you admire?” or “Before you can ask a question, you must name your next born child The Donald?” or, “Can you tell me the best thing about the Fuhrer, I mean the President?”

It might have been fun if this was a fun White House. It is not.

This morning, as the President awoke at his Florida palace, he tweeted about a college basketball player’s dad still not properly demonstrating his thanks for the President asking the Chinese president to release his son from jail on a shoplifting charge. Really? Did you think that if you mentioned it the Chinese president would not grant it?

And really, was it so hard a lift to ask that an American citizen be released from jail on such a minor charge that could lead to a major jail sentence, in a Chinese prison? I guess you couldn’t because this was the closest you came to mentioning human rights on your swing through a bunch of countries who have little such respect for human rights. I mean, Mr. President, you do work for us. Even if the kid was guilty, which he apparently was, he didn’t deserve to be meted out Chinese justice.

And my cynical side wonders if the arrest and imprisonment didn’t happen because the American president was visiting.

But back to Ms Sanders, I was appalled first by her request and second by reporters playing along.

She played you, folks. And you let her.

Written by

Former deputy White House press secretary (Reagan and Bush 41) and former head of communications at Republican Natl Committee. My blog: bjaycooper.com.

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