On Friday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest held his first press briefing after the massacre of then-four, now-five Americans "at a military recruiting office and a Navy-Marine operations center a few miles apart" in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
A mere three minutes into that briefing, thanks to the Associated Press's Darlene Superville, he was already on another topic: President Obama's upcoming weekend father-daughter outing in New York City. The folks at Fox News's "Outnumbered" show were watching live. Quite understandably, the program's Harris Faulkner took strong exception to Superville's chosen question.
Earnest himself set a bizarre tone for the briefing from the get-go. In light of what happened on Thursday, he was inappropriately cheerful as he effusively opened by describing how "it's been a very interesting and even historic week here at the White House." You would never know from his demeanor that there had been any negative events in the past 24 hours. From all appearances by design, with the transparent intent of getting questions about Chattanooga out of the way and moving on to other more convenient topics, Earnest first called on Superville.
The AP writer seemed to start off reasonably enough, but took a sharp detour after getting perfunctory answers to her opening questions.
Even before getting to that detour, it seems more than a little appalling that both Superville and Earnest, as will be seen in the transcript, described the Chattanooga massacre as a "shooting" (i.e., singular), even though there were, as noted above, two separate incidents and, eventually, five deaths. Also note Earnest's clear determination not to say "killings," or "murders," or to use any other similar word to describe what obviously happened (bolds are mine throughout this post):
JOSH EARNEST: Darlene, do you want to get us started?
DARLENE SUPERVILLE: I just have a couple of questions on the shooting yesterday in Chattanooga. I was wondering if there is any information emerging which points to a possible motive in the killing of four marines there?
EARNEST (looking down as if reading from a script — Ed.): Darlene, this tragic shooting occurred only about 24 hours ago. And the President yesterday took the opportunity to convey his condolences to the families of those who were lost in the shooting. Those families continue to be in the thoughts and prayers of everybody here at the White House, even today.
The President received a briefing yesterday, both from the Director of the FBI as well as his top counterterrorism advisor at the White House, Lisa Monaco, to get an update on the investigation. The Attorney General Loretta Lynch is obviously involved in these ongoing investigative efforts. At this point, I do not have an update on the status of their investigation. I know that FBI made clear yesterday that they are looking at a variety of possible motives, including the possibility of domestic terrorism. So that is a part of their ongoing investigation, but I will allow investigators themselves to provide you an update when they are able to.
The President indicated yesterday that he wanted to try to keep the American public informed as much as possible in a timely fashion on this ongoing investigation, and I'm confident that our investigators will do exactly that.
SUPERVILLE: What about information on whether anyone else was involved in the shooting?
EARNEST: Well, they're taking at look at all of these issues in the context of the investigation. I don't have any additional information about that.
SUPERVILLE: The Army Chief of Staff said earlier today that security at military recruiting centers and reserve centers would be reviewed. Does the President believe that it's time to beef up security at those places like that?
EARNEST: Well, the President certainly believes that it's appropriate for the Department of Defense to conduct a review like that. The President alluded to this in his statement yesterday, that it's important for us to take the necessary steps to ensure that our men and women in uniform are safe, particularly when it comes to our men and women in uniform here at home.
And there was an announcement from the Department of Homeland Security about some additional steps that they would be taking. There are some facilities that are jointly operated by the federal government and the Department of Defense where the Department of Homeland Security has jurisdiction.
So I'd refer you to the Department of Homeland Security for additional steps that they can tell you about. There are some steps I'm confident they won't be able to discuss publicly. But it certainly makes sense that the Department of Defense would be considering doing something similar.
This is where Superville, whose LinkedIn resume brags about her involvement in covering Barack Obama's "historic presidency" in two different spots, went into what one would ordinarily consider embarrassing territory — but in her case, based on this incident and other matters in her history as an alleged journalist, she seems incapable of recognizing her own foolishness.
Here is where Fox News's Faulkner weighed in.
The video below begins at Superville's second of three questions in the text transcribed above. At the 1:04 mark, readers will see and hear Superville's final question, followed by Faulkner's reaction (HT Gateway Pundit):
Transcript (from the 1:04 mark):
SUPERVILLE: And then lastly, the daily guidance for today included this rare line that said the President will remain overnight in New York to spend time with his daughters. Usually, you only just say he's remaining overnight in New York. Um, can you flesh out the father-daughter weekend a little bit?
EARNEST: This is an opportunity, as you know, the President is and had been scheduled to travel to New York for a fundraising event. That is not particularly unusual. But yes, the President is looking forward to a rare opportunity that he'll have to spend a little personal time with his daughters in New York over the weekend.
I don't anticipate that we'll have a lot of details in advance about their activities, but the press pool will obviously be there with the President, and will inform your colleagues who will be participating, well, maybe not participating but at least travelling along — that might interfere with the personal nature of the father-daughter time — uh, but obviously we'll make sure that you guys are aware of what they're up to. All right?
(A different reporter asked a question about the Saudi reaction to the Iran "deal." At that point, the Fox "Outnumbered" program went back to the studio.)
HARRIS FAULKNER: All right, we have been watching this White House daily press briefing. Of course, we knew that Josh Earnest, the Press Secretary, would get asked about the shootings (Note: plural. — Ed.) in Tennessee. We anticipated that. He took a couple of questions. He didn't have much information to offer.
I will not disguise my disgust at the next question coming: “Can you flesh out the father-daughter weekend for us?” from a reporter. Sandra, you said it's embarrassing. I have other words. I won’t use them on TV. But, I gotta tell ya, we had a lot more to ask about, and the meeting with the representative from the Middle East is also very important. He was giggling at the top because he was laughing about not wanting to be distracted apparently from the father-daughter weekend. And as this makes news, we will go back. We fully anticipated they'd be still talking about Tennessee."
Well, Harris, it seems more than reasonable to contend that the reason they were not "still talking about Tennessee" is that the Associated Press's Darlene Superville deliberately took the conversation away from it. The fact that she was deliberately chosen to lead off the festivities justifies a suspicion that the White House enlisted her cooperation.
One almost hopes that Superville did what she did at the White House's suggestion so she could remain a card-carrying member of the PR team for the "historic presidency" of Barack Obama. The alternative — that she did this on her own based on an irretrievably warped sense of news priorities — is really worse.
Readers who watch the full C-SPAN video linked at the beginning of this post or look at the photo embedded within the Fox clip's transcript above will note a certain reporter sitting to Superville's left as she asked her "father-daughter" question. That reporter made a bit of news himself last week when he asked President Obama legitimate questions and got a sharp rebuke from a president who couldn't handle the heat. Yes, that really is real reporter Major Garrett of CBS News. Quite understandably, Garrett appears to be struggling mightily to keep from reacting in real time as Fox's Harris Faulkner did a short time later.
Just imagine how outraged the establishment press and the left would be if a reporter engaged in such obvious distracting behavior with a Republican or conservative president or press secretary. Actually, we don't have to. The only difference between Jeff Gannon in 2005 and Darlene Superville today is that one of the two has tried to be a journalist, while the other still works at the Associated Press.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.