Donald Trump is currently contemplating whether or not to take some sort of unspecified action in response to a suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria. There are lots of reasons to be cautious about launching a large-scale bombing campaign against the Assad regime, but for White House reporters, those complexities are better left unexplored, as many of them showed during the White House press briefing on Monday.
It’s no shocker that White House journalists would reduce the situation in Syria to one of familiar macho toughness—Brian Williams, who notoriously hijacked the memory of Leonard Cohen last year to gush over Trump’s bombing of Syria, was a White House correspondent after all—but even so, their questions sucked.
From CBS’ Steven Portnoy:
It was just a couple of weeks ago the president was talking about wanting to leave Syria very quickly. Now you’re saying that there is a price that has to be paid. Does the president believe that there are some things that are so atrocious, which is the phrase he used this morning, that the United States is in fact the world’s policeman, and it demands a response and demands the presence of the United States in the region?
Nope, not a leading question at all.
From ABC’s Jonathan Karl:
Didn’t the president, by saying that he wants to get out of Syria, essentially give a green light to Assad to do this, as John McCain has suggested?
Nothing like a John McCain reference to show where you stand. “Look, we’re still there!” Sanders responded. Accurate!
NBC’s Hallie Jackson:
Is the White House worried that Assad is now making a mockery of President Trump’s threats?
Reducing the latest development in a hideous geopolitical quagmire caused in no small part by American military interventions going back decades to a boxing match between Assad and Trump is, well, what White House reporters do.
It was left to April Ryan to squeeze in a different sort of question at the last second: “Where does diplomacy play in this?” Not in the White House briefing room, that’s for sure!