Sanders: A Trump warrior departs
‘Curled-lip disdain’ for the press
Sarah Huckabee Sanders will soon depart a truly “impossible job,” said Margaret Sullivan in The Washington Post. As White House press secretary for the past two years, Sanders spoke “on behalf of a president who lies”—by my newspaper’s count, more than 10,800 times since taking office. Yet in her farewell speech, a tearful Sanders said, “I’ve loved every minute.” Indeed, whereas her predecessor, Sean Spicer, often looked uncomfortable lying to reporters, Sanders, “with her distinctive curled-lip disdain,” clearly relished it: denying that Trump made hush payments to Stormy Daniels, inventing the statistic that 4,000 terrorists had tried to cross the southern border, defending former White House aide Rob Porter when his ex-wives accused him of abuse. Her insistence that “countless members” of the FBI supported James Comey’s firing was, she admitted under oath, a “slip of the tongue.” The “queen of gaslighting” will be hard to replace.
Sanders’ only sin, said Michael Goodwin in the New York Post, was that she refused to kowtow to the preening, arrogant White House press corps. When a Democrat was president, that same press corps regarded lying as “spin.” Journalists blame her for eliminating daily press briefings, but the briefings had become “a circus,” with CNN’s Jim Acosta and other Washington showboats hijacking them “to display their contempt for Trump.” Those “mirror-gazing” reporters personally detest Sanders, said Roger Kimball in Spectator.org, but conservatives consider her “a breath of fresh air”; 80 percent of Republicans viewed her favorably in a Gallup poll last year. A “brave and generous-hearted woman,” Sanders treated “the lying press” with “far more courtesy and candor” than she got in return.
The truth is that Sanders was a press secretary in title only, said Peter Nicholas in TheAtlantic.com. The job “has withered under successive presidents,” Democrats included, and now it’s been “functionally obliterated.” Sanders operated as a “garden-variety senior adviser,” displaying total fealty to Trump. “It may now seem quaint,” but press secretaries used to play a “dual role,” protecting the president’s image and “the interests of a free press.” The demise of this role is a real loss, said Brian Stelter in CNN.com. Daily briefings force the White House to answer to the American people, even when it’s inconvenient. Last month, reporters noticed “a coating of dust” on the press secretary’s podium. “That is Sanders’ legacy.” ■