Politics

Where did Sarah Sanders’ bar tab story come from?

On Monday, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders amused some (and exasperated others) as she launched a highly anticipated press briefing with a lengthy allegory intended to defend President Trump’s tax plan.

Her monologue, which stretched almost five minutes, centered around a group of 10 fictional reporters who gathered each night to drink beer, and detailed how they would split up the tab.

To her credit, Sanders did note that the story “has been floating around the Internet for a while.”

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She’s certainly got that right.

Although it’s unclear who originally authored the story, a version of it has been circulating in the public space since at least 2001, when it appeared in the Chicago Tribune as a letter to the editor sent by one Don Dodson.

The story has since been making its way through peoples’ inboxes and into the columns of conservative voices — including as recently as three years ago in the Independent Journal Review.

The parable has also become prime forwarding chain fodder (sometimes using the scenario of a dinner bill instead of a bar tab), as some pointed out during Sanders’ story time.

However, two names that have been floated as being the authors of the analogy — David R. Kamerschen, an economics professor at the University of Georgia, and Thomas Davies, an accounting professor at the University of South Dakota — have apparently been debunked.

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According to a University of Georgia webpage posting that has since been archived, Kamerschen’s name was so widely spread that he had to include a disclaimer at the top of his biography: “Contrary to Internet folklore, Dr. Kamerschen is NOT the author of ‘Tax Cuts: A Simple Lesson in Economics.’ Additionally, he does NOT know who wrote it.”

Separately, Davies told Snopes.com that the “article was not written by me, and I have intentionally avoided commenting on its validity in order to encourage my students to think critically.”

Although no one seems to really know who originally came up with the analogy, the story has been creeping around the Internet in force, making its way to forums like Reddit and smaller community threads.

Meanwhile, at least one reporter had a different takeaway from Sanders’ analogy:

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Christina Prignano of the Globe staff contributed to this report.