MSNBC journalists on Tuesday scoffed at any thought of actually considering the lies told by Elizabeth Warren regarding her alleged Native American heritage. Host Andrea Mitchell quickly played this comment by White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders: “I think Senator Warren was very offensive when she lied about something specifically to advance her career.
Calling out the media, she added, "I don't understand why no one is asking about that question and why that isn't constantly covered.” Talking to reporter Kristen Welker, Mitchell dismissed, “You tried to pin her down on that, but the answers are only creating more problems for this White House.”
Is looking into Warren’s claims a distraction? Welker replied to Mitchell: “There is no doubt about that, Andrea. You saw the White House really try to shift the focus back to Elizabeth Warren.”
As the MRC’s Nicholas Fondacaro wrote on Monday, the networks showed no interest in questioning Warren’s claims. Instead, they kept the focus squarely on Trump.
A partial transcript is below:
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Andrea Mitchell Reports
ANDREA MITCHELL: To Kristen Welker at the White House the other side of this argument. The President had already created another kind of new controversy insulting those elderly Native American World War II heroes. They were 90 years and plus, and they were at the White House for this honor. He gratuitously slammed Elizabeth Warren with this slur, calling her Pocahontas, as he did during the campaign, to their face. That caused an eruption. I want to play for you what you did in questioning Sarah Sanders immediately afterwards at the briefing.
KRISTEN WELKER: Why is it appropriate for the President to use a racial slur in any context?
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS: I don't believe it is appropriate for him to make a racial slur or anybody else.
WELKER: Well, a lot of people feel as though this is a racial slur. So why is it appropriate for him to use that?
SANDERS: Like I said, I don't think it is.
WELKER: Does he see political value in calling people out racially? Why use that term?
SANDERS: Look, I think Senator Warren was very offensive when she lied about something specifically to advance her career. I don't understand why no one is asking about that question and why that isn't constantly covered.
MITCHELL: Kristen, you tried to pin her down on that, but the answers are only creating more problems for this White House.
WELKER: There is no doubt about that, Andrea. You saw the White House really try to shift the focus back to Elizabeth Warren. But bottom line, Republicans close to the White House acknowledge that, look, that statement yesterday about Pocahontas came out of nowhere. It came at a ceremony that was aimed at honoring native American World War II veterans, and it also came at a time when this President wants to be focused on tax reform, wants to be focused on his end of the year agenda, trying to strike a deal with Chuck and Nancy, which, as you ask Garrett were just talking about, has taken a major step backwards. So this really did overshadow the President's messaging.
I'll point out, Andrea, the fact that the President has sent out a lot of tweets today, none about Elizabeth Warren. It's possible he wants to try to turn the page on this controversy and redirect the focus on tax reform ahead of his big visit to Capitol Hill where the stakes have not been higher. Will that continue to be the case? I wouldn't bet on it, because Elizabeth Warren has not only been critical of this President, how he has handled the transfer of power at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. But she considers to criticize him on a whole range of issues. I think that's part of what prompted yesterday's comment, Andrea. So he might stay quiet when it comes to Elizabeth Warren today. Will that hold in the coming weeks if she continues her criticism of him? Not clear that that will be the case, Andrea.