WH Press Begin 2018 with Clownish Questions, Get Schooled by Huckabee Sanders

On Tuesday, 2018's first White House press briefing showed that the media have picked up where 2017 left off by making fools of themselves with dumb and nonsensical questions. This time, topics included college football in red states, that infamous white box truck, and working during the holidays. 

NBC News national correspondent Peter Alexander asked the first delusional question as he tried to seize on White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders noting earlier that both teams in the College Football National Championship game (Alabama and Georgia) are from states President Trump won in 2016.

 

 

Alexander must have thought he had Sanders in a bind when he wondered:

And a follow-up if I can because you started talking football, so I’ll ask you about football. The two — the two teams that are going to be in the national championship game come from the state of Georgia and the state of Alabama. As you know well, obviously Alabama just elected Democratic senator, you said are right in the heart of Trump country. Does the President see the country as Trump country and the rest of the country?

Needless to say, Alexander’s trap failed spectacularly as Sanders pointed out the obvious, which was that she was simply “making a congratulations to two great football teams in the greatest conference in the country.”

Playboy correspondent/Sentinel Newspapers editor Brian Karem stepped up to the plate to fill the void left by Jim Acosta not being in Tuesday's briefing, wondering if Sanders could provide “a comprehensive break down of what he accomplished over the holidays.”

Citing meetings with two cabinet secretaries and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer over the holidays, Karem added: “Did you accomplish anything during that break and could you let the American public what it was that you accomplished?”

Sanders responded to the smart aleck comment by stating that the President has “obviously...been extremely focused on trade” dating back to the campaign and that she would update the press when there’s new policy developments or proposals.

Not to be denied, Karem continued with another question about Trump and press conferences. Here’s part of that exchange:

KAREM: Does he plan to hold — he's had one solo press conference in a year. Is there any chance we can get him out here and ask — answer some questions from us anytime soon? 

HUCKBEE SANDERS: We’ll certainly make you aware if he's going to make appearance. Look the President communicates. He’s one of the most accessible presidents we’ve ever had. He gives feedback and answers questions in a variety of different ways. Sometimes, it’s through a press conference. Sometimes, one of the most President chatting on the way to and from on Marine One. It’s often through Twitter where he gets to talk directly to the American people[.]

Yahoo! News White House correspondent Hunter Walker saved perhaps the craziest questions for the end, wondering if Sanders could tell him “the biggest single thing the President has accomplished for the American people during his time on the golf course,” which was up to “91 times.”

“I think it would certainly be developing deeper and better relationships with members of Congress in which they have helped push forward the President's agenda specifically when it comes to helping get the tax reform and tax cuts passed, a lot of that, I think, and the success of that came from strong relationships President has had,” Sanders explained.

Still unsatisfied, Walker drove the media’s image even further into the ditch by bringing up the white box truck that appeared in front of Trump last week while golfing in Florida that sent not so much the media writ large but CNN into a tailspin: 

There seems to be a bit of transparency issue with his time on the golf course. We don't always get confirmation of what he's doing there despite a lot of requests. There was this incident with the box truck. Why does it seem as though the White House is a little self-consc — you know, has some kind of issue about his time on the course? 

To her credit, Sanders wasn’t rattled and instead broke the news to the room of liberal journalists that it’s “the press that has an issue with his time on the course” prior to elaborating on the claim that “the President is extremely proud of the accomplishments we had during 2017.”

Walker worked in a request about the media receiving read-outs for what was discussed whenever Trump golfs (as in what’s done when a president calls or meets with a foreign leader), but Sanders told him that the press team would give information “when it’s pertinent.” 

<<< Please support MRC's NewsBusters team with a tax-deductible contribution today. >>>

Here’s the relevant transcript from January 2's White House Press Briefing:

White House Press Briefing
January 2, 2018
2:57 p.m. Eastern

PETER ALEXANDER: And a follow-up if I can because you started talking football, so I’ll ask you about football. The two — the two teams that are going to be in the national championship game come from the state of Georgia and the state of Alabama. As you know well, obviously Alabama just elected Democratic senator, you said are right in the heart of Trump country. Does the President see the country as Trump country and the rest of the country? 

SARAH HUCKBEE SANDERS: Look, I was innocently making a congratulations to two great football teams in the greatest conference in the country, which I'm sure that most of you will all agree even those that don't live in one of those lucky states. Brian?

BRIAN KAREM: Thanks, Sarah. I'm going to ask you specifically about, well, I'm not going to ask you if you worked during the holiday cause I think I know what you’d say. But what I do want to ask you is — 

HUCKBEE SANDERS: There was a holiday? 

KAREM: — yeah, right? What I want to ask you, will he give a comprehensive break down of what he accomplished over the holidays? And, specifically, he met with Steve Mnuchin, Wilbur Ross, Robert Lighthizer, his Trade rep, his Commerce Secretary, and his Treasury Secretary. Did you accomplish anything during that break and could you let the American public what it was that you accomplished? 

HUCKBEE SANDERS: Obviously, the President has been extremely focused on trade. He talked a lot about it during the campaign, has talked a lot about it since he was sworn in. That's going to continue to be a big priority for the President in making sure that American workers and American companies are at the best end and have better trade deals. He doesn't feel like we have very many of those right now and wants to make sure that we make every effort to improve all the trade deals we have so we’re benefitting our workers and our companies in our country and that was certainly a big part of that conversation and we'll continue to be so. And we'll keep you posted if we have specifics to roll out on that front. 

(....)


HUNTER WALKER: So in less than a year in office now, President Trump has visited golf courses 91 times. There’s confirmation that he's played the game of golf at last 75 times. Sean, back in March told me that this was different than President Obama's use of golf, which was Obama played far less than President Trump but Sean said Trump was using the game much differently. Can you tell me the biggest single thing the President has accomplished for the American people during his time on the golf course? 

HUCKBEE SANDERS: I think it would certainly be developing deeper and better relationships with members of Congress in which they have helped push forward the President's agenda specifically when it comes to helping get the tax reform and tax cuts passed, a lot of that, I think, and the success of that came from strong relationships President has had, and he’s played golf with a number of senators and used that time certainly to accomplish that. We’ll take one —

WALKER: So much has been accomplished during his time? There seems to be a bit of transparency issue with his time on the golf course. We don't always get confirmation of what he's doing there despite a lot of requests. There was this incident with the box truck. Why does it seem as though the White House is a little self-consc — you know, has some kind of issue about his time on the course? 

HUCKBEE SANDERS: I think it's the press that has an issue with his time on the course. The President is extremely proud of the accomplishments we had during 2017. I don't think anyone can argue, it was probably one of the most successful first years in office, passed major legislation and reworked the court system and got a Supreme Court justice nominated and approved and on the bench in the first year, a booming economy, massive gains against the war on ISIS. I think we've had extremely successful 2017 and some of that is due to the relationship building that he was able to do there. We'll take one last question. 

WALKER: Is there a reason for no read-out or confirmation? 

HUCKBEE SANDERS: I'm sorry? 

WALKER: Is there a reason for no read out or confirmation when he's had these meetings on the course? 

HUCKBEE SANDERS: We provide information when it's pertinent to the day and we'll continue to do that.


Please support NewsBusters today! (a 501c3 non-profit production of the Media Research Center)

DONATE
CyberAlerts Liberals & Democrats Sports Yahoo! NBC Playboy Video Government & Press White House Press Briefing Hunter Walker Peter Alexander Brian Karem Sarah Huckabee Sanders Donald Trump
Curtis Houck's picture