If you heard talk about Russian dressing on Tuesday, this testy exchange between White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer and April Ryan, the White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks, is probably why.
Ryan was reminding Spicer of all the Russia-related news the White House is dealing with — the scuttled Sally Yates testimony, President Trump's widely dismissed claims he was wiretapped at Trump Tower, the broader Russia investigation — and Spicer cut it, rejecting the premise. "No, we don't 'have' that," he said. "I've said it from the day that I got here until whenever that there's not a connection. You've got Russia. If the president puts Russian salad dressing on his salad tonight, somehow that's a Russian connection."
Nevertheless, Ryan persisted. Spicer selectively insisted that everyone has dismissed reports of Trump-Russia collusion, despite the ongoing FBI investigation, and told Ryan, "I'm sorry that that disgusts you. You're shaking your head." He accused her of pursuing an "agenda" and ignoring "facts," and when she changed subjects to ask about a White House visit by Condoleezza Rice, Spicer accused Ryan of being "hellbent on trying to make sure that whatever image you want to tell about this White House stays," adding again: "Please, stop shaking your head again."
Even though he said "please," Spicer instructing a reporter — especially a black female reporter — on how she should gesture or behave rubbed a lot of people the wrong way, including Ryan.
Hillary Clinton, in a rare public speech Tuesday, said Ryan "was patronized and cut off as she tried to ask a question," threw in Bill O'Reilly's jab at Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), and said: "Too many women, especially women of color, have had a lifetime of practice taking precisely these kinds of indignities in stride." At The Washington Post, Aaron Blake noted that Spicer has clashed with male reporters plenty of times, but this "seemed to venture into different territory." And oddly, he added, "the mere premise that Russia is an issue for the White House seemed to set Spicer off."