White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders held her first briefing in 26 days on Monday, following the murder of 11 people at a Jewish synagogue in Pittsburgh over the weekend. Not surprisingly, things went off the rails almost immediately after she began taking questions.
“This atrocity was a chilling act of mass murder, it was an act of hatred, and above all it was an act of evil,” Sanders said, at times choking up. “We all have a duty to confront anti-Semitism in all its forms...our nation mourns the loss of these extraordinary Americans.”
The nice sentiment lasted approximately 4.1 seconds, and the rest of the briefing was full of exchanges like this one, in which Sanders exploded at the suggestion that President Donald Trump isn’t “unifying” the country and proceeded to spit out the same drivel (90 percent of what the media says about Trump is negative! No one blames Bernie Sanders for Steve Scalise’s shooting!!!) that you could have found on MAGA Twitter since we found out suspected mailbomber Cesar Sayoc was a Trump superfan.
“The very first thing the president did was condemn the attacks in both Pittsburgh and the pipe bombs,” Sanders said angrily, in response to a question from ABC’s Jonathan Karl. “The first thing the media did was blame the president and make him responsible for these ridiculous acts! That is outrageous that that would be the very first reaction...you can’t start putting the responsibility of individuals on anybody but the individual who carried out the crime.”
CNN’s Jim Acosta, a boy who first put on his Edward R. Murrow Halloween costume at the age of seven and is still wearing it 40 years later, wasn’t about to let Sanders off the hook without one of his patented defenses of the free press. (To be fair, his network was targeted with multiple pipe bombs, so he was allowed to be justifiably outraged for a change.)
Acosta asked Sanders if she could “state, for the record, which outlets you and the president regard as the enemy of the people.” Sanders responded that “those individuals probably know who they are.”
The back and forth continued until Acosta dropped this haymaker: “Shouldn’t you have the guts, Sarah, to state which outlets, which outlets, which journalists are the enemy of the people?”
“I think it’s irresponsible of a news organization, like yours, to blame the responsibility of a pipe bomb that was not sent by the president,” Sanders said. Bait taken.
As if all of this wasn’t painful enough, Sanders also found ample time to back up her president’s racist tweet from this morning calling Florida gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum a “thief.” Sanders justified the tweet to April Ryan by saying “that individual”—Gillum—“is under FBI investigation.” This, you’ll be shocked to learn, is wrong.
Everything’s back to normal in the White House press briefing room.