There have been few days in Donald Trump’s White House when chaos hasn’t been prevalent and even fewer when nothing of interest has happened.

In an odd way, the last year has been a grand circus of terror, gaudiness, debauchery and plunder worthy of a Stephen King novel. All that’s missing is Kathy Bates, a clown called It or a dog named Cujo. This week has been no different, and some say more spectacular with grand, insipid and dangerous issues winding their way through the West Wing like a contortionist on an acid-induced nightmare.

The White House, of course, is eager to promote the idea that Trump is the most transparent president of the modern era despite the facts that he’s had only one solo news conference in the last year, recently cut down the number of briefings his press staff can give, refuses to take questions during pool sprays and even limited his tweets as of late. As one reporter said in the pressroom, “Oh he’s transparent all right. We can see right through him.” But the transparency he offers isn’t interaction, responsiveness or responsibility to the public.

A Tuesday press briefing, the first of only two this week, was originally scheduled for 2 p.m. At a minute past two, a voice came over the loud speaker to tell us the briefing had been delayed until 3 p.m. A few minutes later it was moved up to 2:50 p.m. The president himself had an event at 3:30 p.m., so delaying the briefing guaranteed a shorter question-and-answer period. It’s a popular tactic the White House has taken as of late in order to appear to be informative and accessible while in reality being neither.

“Holy Crap! Not again,” came the cry from more than one reporter when the announcement was made over the loudspeaker. Someone speculated the presidential staff was having a hot cup of covfefe and decrying the horrors of the Bowling Green Massacre while cheering the border wall the president said Mexico would build. But we all knew the real reason for delay: Tuesday would be the first briefing in nearly a week. We had to deal with misogyny of the Rob Porter scandal, the shooting spree at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that left 17 dead, 13 indictments from the Mueller investigation and the president’s renewed efforts to engage in a nuclear arms race. Meanwhile, the president was trying to push his infrastructure agenda—but no one wants to talk about roads and bridges when kids are dying at school.

Trump isn’t giving anyone much to work with; what little he does give is becoming increasingly difficult to sell without the stench.

Any one of those issues in most administrations would be a month’s worth of news. In the Trump era, this is all grist for the mill on a single day.

By 3:20 p.m., we still had not been treated to our 2 p.m. news conference, by then rescheduled twice. As the press sat in the briefing room telling bad jokes and musing when the show would finally begin, I took it upon myself to walk into the White House’s lower press office and ask.

“Get back to your side of the room,” a young staff wrangler said sarcastically.

“The very least you can do,” I said, “is be considerate of the 100 or so people in that room, the multitude of networks waiting—some of which you like—and the millions of people waiting to watch this briefing and let us know, just let us know that you are delayed and when the briefing will actually take place. That’s all we ask.”

The young wrangler, stick firmly entrenched in the backside, again told me to get back to “my side” of the office and that Sarah Huckabee Sanders was on her way down as we spoke. When I walked back, I relayed my experience to the dozens of reporters waiting. “They said Sarah is on her way out,” I said. “Do you believe them?” more than one reporter quipped.

It speaks volumes to the integrity of the White House that we can’t trust even the staff to be honest about when briefings will begin, much less what they when we ask them real questions. It has become increasingly apparent that what we in the press have witnessed this week is the slow unraveling of any pretense of reality, humility, humanity or responsibility in the White House.

Consider the president wants to arm schoolteachers, a move former Republican National Committee Chairman Mike Steele said is “warped reality.” Trump seized on this singularly insane position as if he’d discovered the wheel and sent Sanders, and later deputy press secretary Raj Shah, to defend it. Sanders did indeed look whipped on Tuesday, delivering a deadpan message that resembled the stubbornness of Alec Guinness emerging from the hot box in The Bridge on the River Kwai. By Thursday, Shah delivered a presidential defense with so little energy, many wondered if he still had a pulse when he finished.

This isn’t the White House press staff’s fault—and those who believe so miss the point. Trump isn’t giving anyone much to work with, and what little he does give is becoming increasingly difficult to sell without the stench overwhelming everyone nearby. A box of horse excrement doesn’t get better, no matter how many nice bows you put on the box. Put bluntly, the White House is running out of bows, and it shows.

None of the issues—be it the misogyny in the Porter case, the frightening nature of Russian nationals trying to hijack an election, young students again being gunned down at school, the far right accusing Parkland’s survivors of being “antifa actors” or the renewed nuclear arms race with North Korea—are getting the attention needed.

It’s hard to understand a president who screams about leaks but admits there are people in the White House who don’t have security clearances.

Democratic Congressman John Sarbanes of Maryland told me Thursday the presidency is not only unraveling, but that Trump has stepped away from a leadership role in the world altogether. “We have to work hard to contain this president. He is dangerous,” Sarbanes tells Playboy.

The United States once led the world in climate change action, but then Trump pulled us out of the Paris Agreement. We led the way in nuclear disarmament, but now Trump has categorically stated the U.S. will not do so. (“We will not lead the way,” were in fact his exact words to local and state office holders at the White House.)

On Tuesday night, Sanders, appearing with Bill Clinton’s press secretary Mike McCurry at an event sponsored by the White House Correspondents’ Association, tried again to defend the administration, but McCurry reminded her the president had crossed a line early on: he declared a war on the press, and McCurry urged Sanders to always steer the narrative “toward the truth” when dealing with a free press. McCurry also reminded Sanders she wasn’t unique in having to deal with scandals: “I had to deal with Monica Lewinsky,” he said with a smile.

Damage control, however, is becoming increasingly problematic in an administration that thinks more guns in our schools will solve our gun problem. (Mind you, an armed deputy outside MSD High School in Parkland never entered the building during the shooting.) The same can be said for an administration that believes Russian hacking of our elections is either a Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama problem and that Trump has been tougher on Russia than anyone before him.

It’s hard to take the man seriously when his own administration disclosed that alleged abuser Porter had been up for a promotion right before he was fired. It’s hard to understand a president who screams about leaks but admits there are dozens of people working in the White House who don’t have adequate security clearances. It is hard to see the president as a leader when he won’t lead on an international stage. It’s hard to take seriously the claims of being a man of peace when he is encouraging war with North Korea.

“You have to wonder if it is all falling apart because the Mueller investigation is closing in,” one member of Congress said last week. There is no way at this point to tell where this Stephen King-like experience will lead. Cujo, It and Kathy Bates are nowhere to be seen.

But the Mueller investigation continues.