On June 27, 2017, the White House Press Office sent out its daily guidance telling us of significant events the next day. A press briefing was not among them, but we were promised notification by the following morning.
So, I went to the White House to ask about healthcare. The president told us in a briefing last week—in a question I posed—that he was happy with the bill and would veto legislation if he, theoretically, didn’t like it.
Meanwhile, Spicer traveled to the Hill to apparently speak to someone who wasn’t in the press corps and we waited (again) for the briefing to begin. I usually wait until we’re 20 to 25 minutes overdue and poke my head into the press office and ask them to get a move on. The lower press people don’t like this, but I think it’s incredibly rude to keep 100 people waiting. Just make the time for the briefing later—I’m fine with that. But please, as my Southern parents taught me, if you commit to be somewhere on time—then do it. This administration rarely does.
Then Sarah Huckabee Sanders stepped up and joked about how long we had to wait and maybe we should just skip the questions. We had been waiting long enough, that’s true, and Perry spent quite a bit of time in an animated and entertaining state. That’s true, too.
Sanders stepped up and the first question came from a Breitbart reporter about a CNN story and the resulting aftermath that led to a retraction and subsequent firings. Sanders was in her element and we got to hear again how the media is at fault, there is a lot of fake media out there, and Sanders urged us all to look at some video – that she admittedly had no idea whether it was true – but if it was, then oh boy, we should see it.
Six months of being bullied by this administration, being told we are the enemy of the people and how the administration supports the First Amendment – just not the people who practice it -- and I’d had enough.
We’re here to ask you questions. You’re here to provide answers.
The president has never admitted one mistake. The current administration sells half-truths and lies like they’re day-old cookies at a bake sale.
The fact is, I like Sarah Sanders. I like Sean Spicer. I like most of the people I’ve met who work in this administration. They’re personable and, as far as I can tell—with a few notable exceptions—decent people.
But I don’t like bullies and I don’t like the entire institution of the press and free speech being castigated for no other reason than we either get stories wrong – which happens, and it should be then responsibly corrected -- or because we report news the president doesn’t like – which seems to happen even more often than getting stories wrong. (Note: Our founder, Hugh Hefner, believes in the First Amendment with all his heart.)
The foundation of a free republic is a free press. You take the good with the bad and you move on. As I’ve said before, in quoting Larry Speakes: we won’t tell you how to stage the news, so don’t tell us how to report it.
Watch Brian Karem's exchange with Sarah Huckabee Sanders here.