During today’s White House press briefing, Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters that if they wanted to ask a question, they had to first say something that they were thankful for. And then they all went along with it.
Sanders immediately called upon April Ryan, who, as a black woman, has been a continual target of White House press secretaries. To her credit, Ryan quickly responded with an appropriate level of snark, stating, “I’m thankful to be able to talk to you and question you every single day.”
For the rest of the briefing, other reporters then dutifully prefaced their questions with things they were grateful for: their families, the First Amendment, their colleagues, their wives (“thankful to her for saying yes on the fourth request,” ha ha!), and even “this exercise.” When AP’s Zeke Miller didn’t give a thanks, Sanders said, “you did break the rule of not offering anything that you’re thankful for,” to laughter from the rest of the press corps. Sanders wrapped up the briefing by saying, “thank you for participating in this very fun exercise.”
This was an intensely embarrassing display. No one should have played along with Sanders’s request. This is not a school, reporters are not children, and they do not have to acquiesce to displays of gratitude just because the White House press secretary asked them to. The knee-jerk obedience was especially humiliating given the way that the press has been treated by the Trump administration. Remember White House reporters: It’s OK not to do what Sanders tells you to!