News outlets that participate in White House press briefings always end up facing the same conundrum: they need a functional working relationship with White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, which puts them in a bind when she becomes the story by telling blatant lies from the podium. Some major news outlets have been far better at calling her out than others. But now they’re unloading on her, to her face, after realizing she’s a goner.
Earlier this week, various leaks revealed that more or less everyone on Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ staff is openly rebelling against her. Last night CBS reported that she’s preparing to resign from the White House. She immediately denied this, but the damage was done. Everyone now knows that she’s on her way out, meaning they no longer need to worry about maintaining a working relationship with her. Accordingly, at today’s briefing, they began unloading on her.
Jim Acosta of CNN simply refused to let Huckabee Sanders off the hook after she claimed that the Bible justified Donald Trump’s abhorrent abuse of immigrant kids. She ended up exploding at him. Brian Karem of Sentinel Newspapers unloaded on her over it. She exploded at him as well. To be clear, these are two of the briefing room reporters who have done the best job of standing up to Trump and his gang – but they weren’t the only ones. Some of the reporters who usually act like mere stenographers were also fiercely taking Huckabee Sanders to task today.
The bottom line: these briefing room reporters are all surely exasperated by the constant lies of Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and the horrid behavior of the Trump administration in general, but they’re never sure how far they can push her without damaging their news outlets’ ability to cover the White House at all going forward. Now that they all know Huckabee Sanders is a goner, they don’t have to worry about ruining their working relationships with her. If anything, today’s briefing served to accelerate her departure.
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Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report