WASHINGTON — White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders could not escape questions Thursday about the president’s attack on cable news host Mika Brzezinski during a week meant to be focused on the administration’s energy policies.
Whose fault is it for the distraction? Depends on who you listen to, the White House points the finger at the press, while the media points it right back.
“What about the attacks he receives?” Sanders asked after being asked one of several questions about the president’s tweets. Seven of the 11 journalists that were able to ask a question during the briefing spoke about the tweets.
“I heard poorly rated [Morning Joe] speaks badly of me (don’t watch anymore). Then how come low I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe, came to Mar-a-Lago 3 nights in a row around New Year’s Eve, and insisted on joining me,” Trump tweeted. “She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!”
Shortly after these were posted, Sanders defended the president in an interview on Fox News by asserting that Trump will not allow himself to be “bullied.”
“This is a president who fights fire with fire,” the spokeswoman added. Many prominent congressional Republicans, however, would not entertain defending these tweets.
House Speaker Paul Ryan said, “Obviously I don’t see that as an appropriate comment.” Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski tweeted, “Stop it! The Presidential platform should be used for more than bringing people down.”
Many reporters at the press briefing Thursday asked their questions along these lines. NBC’s White House correspondent Kristen Welker brought up that the “Morning Joe” hosts are cable news anchors and that the president is usually held to a higher standard. This came after Sanders said that Trump was just “pushing back on people who attack him day after day after day.”
“Where’s the outrage on that?” Sanders asked. Then in response to Welker’s follow-up about standards, the White House spokeswoman essentially asserted that what happened this morning is to be expected.
“The American people elected a fighter,” Sanders said. “They knew what they were getting when they voted for Donald Trump.”
Indeed, American voters knew perfectly well during the election that Trump isn’t one to shy away from personal attacks. The president, who has described himself as a “counter puncher,” has used Twitter over the past two years to say that Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol is “an embarrassed loser,” Yahoo News correspondent Lisa Belkin is a “low-life,” Fox News contributor Meghan McCain is “obnoxious,” and conservative political consultant Rick Wilson is “dumb as a rock.”
However, when all these tweets were sent out Trump was just a candidate and without a government to run.
A reporter asked Sanders whether the tweets help Trump’s legislative agenda.
“I think the President would love for us all to focus on the legislative agenda a whole lot more,” Sanders replied. “You look at the coverage over the last month of the extended period between May and June, all of the major networks, if you look at their coverage and what they’re talking about, they spent one minute in the evening newscast talking about tax reform; three minutes on infrastructure; five minutes on the economy and jobs; 17 minutes on healthcare; and 353 minutes — 353 minutes — attacking the president and pushing a false narrative on Russia.”
She went on to say: “If you guys want to talk about legislative agenda and focus on policy and priorities, you guys get to help set that table.”
The other person of course putting plates on “that table” is Trump and his Twitter.