You Are Who You Drink With

Photo: Joe Raedle (Getty Images)

The Sarah Huckabee Sanders Respecters have logged on, and goddamn is it embarrassing.

Sanders announced two weeks ago that she would be stepping down from her post as White House press secretary. Different journalists have reacted to the news in different ways. Some, like CNN’s Jim Acosta, have happily trotted out old war stories only to cap them off with disturbingly quaint anecdotes, Acosta’s being the time he and Sanders sang Christmas carols together. Others, like April Ryan, held the line, wishing Sanders anything but well as she departs the post she’d already long abandoned.

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Unfortunately, it seems far more of the DC source hounds opted for the Acosta route.

Last Wednesday, the Huffington Post broke the news that a pair of reporters from Politico and Daily Mail wanted to put together a farewell party for Sanders. It was an awful enough idea just to hear out loud, but the story and quotes from the actual event are, somehow, far worse than can be imagined.

According to Columbia Journalism Review, about 50 guests filed into Rare Steakhouse to celebrate Sanders being objectively awful at her job. Sanders was, however, unrivaled in completing her true purpose, though, which was lying for a megalomaniac. (And just to keep this ball rolling, the CJR report from the night’s events—while useful for the abundance of shameful quotes from reporters and correspondents—is embarrassing in its own right, due to the staggering amount of context absent from the surrounding quotes it coasts on.)

But because CJR went there with its handy dandy tape recorder, and because journalists love being on the other side of such devices more than they’ll ever admit, the bounty the outlet was able to accrue was really something. I mean, get a load of this swill:

A White House correspondent who resembled a young William Shatner (and didn’t want to be named) took a gulp of beer and said that the night felt like “the end of a battle, or a decent game of rugby, where at the end of the day you shake hands.”

A colleague chimed in, “Everybody has their issue with Sarah Sanders, but if you can’t have a drink with somebody, then all of civilization has broken down.”

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Not that it needs to be said or shouted or screamed any more than it already has been, but allow me, for a moment, to make a simple point: You, a reporter, do not have to be friendly with a source you were forced to work with due to the nature of your job. You, a trained or untrained journalist, do not have to dine and gulp beer alongside a person who will soon command a book deal whose contract alone would snap your spine. You, a person tasked with providing readers the truth, do not have to do jack shit for someone who willingly works as part of a team hellbent on thrusting the country into war and forcing immigrant children to waste away in abhorrent conditions.

You can, of course, do these things. You can feel free to rub shoulders with such a person in hopes that they will notice your presence at this soiree and provide you juicy tips on Signal about the release date of their book, so that you can go from making $65,000 to $100,000, maybe, one day. You can also write a story about such an event and such people choosing to do such things and balance your quotes in a manner that effectively awards both sides an equal amount of respect.

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You can do all all of these things, but you don’t have to. More importantly, you shouldn’t. But 50 people did, and those 50 people will do the same when Stephanie Grisham throws in the towel. After all, if all you’ve ever tasted is the bottom of whose ever boot stands before you, you’ll never know how good it is to simply not stick your tongue out.

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