You can’t impugn Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ credibility.
“When the spokesperson for the president of the United States of America comes to that podium and provides incorrect, false, bad information, they have no credibility to continue with that job,” David Chalian, CNN’s political director, said last week during a segment on the network.
Such a statement could have been made every day since Sanders became White House press secretary last summer. Yet saying she has lost the credibility to do her job is like saying New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has lost credibility as an Olympic skater.
It’s meaningless. It’s also why mentioning that Sanders “provides incorrect, false, bad information” fails as a reprimand. For most people, these would be career-ending flaws. For Sanders, it’s her job description.
That’s been on garish display recently as Sanders has waded through the mounting “who knew what when” morass around hush money paid to adult film thespian Stormy Daniels in 2016 to silence her about an alleged tryst with Trump. With the press corps seemingly reaching its limit with this White House’s disregard for the truth, Sanders has been resorting to this dodge: “We give the very best information that we have at that time.”
Translation: “We’re lying.”
Credibility is not, nor will it ever be, a priority for the Trump administration. Saying and doing whatever they want with impunity is. By that telling measure, Sanders may be Trump’s most devoted acolyte in dismantling how a democracy communicates with its citizens.
She understands and executes her duties far better than her two predecessors at the briefing room podium. Sean Spicer was too easily flustered. Even when he smiled, he looked like he was gritting his teeth. If he didn’t leave, he would have spontaneously combusted.
Then there was the entertaining, vaguely sinister Anthony “The Mooch” Scaramucci. With a love of the spotlight matching that of his boss, he wasn’t built to last. Eleven days and one profane, insult-packed New Yorker interview later, he was out. It was the shortest tenure of any White House communications director in history.
From her time as deputy press secretary, Sanders already understood her marching orders — evade, lie, mislead, and scold the press for trying to do its job. Compared to the other grifters and incompetents connected to this presidency, she is ruthlessly efficient. Even when presented with clear evidence of Trump’s falsehoods, she toes the company line of lies.
Ask her if a Cabinet member may get fired, Sanders will deny it right up until the ax drops. When she answers a reporter’s question with “I’ll get back to you on that,” she won’t. She’ll claim some of Trump’s more menacing comments and tweets are jokes. As if there’s anything remotely funny about police brutality or accusing Democrats of treason for refusing to stand and applaud during Trump’s State of the Union address.
Trump does not have a sense of humor. He does not tell jokes.
Sanders operates as an illusionist. She obscures the truth and tries to make it disappear. It doesn’t matter if everyone can clearly see what’s behind the curtain. What are you going to believe — your own eyes or the words of the president’s mouthpiece?
Bill O’Reilly said he recently volunteered to stand next to Sanders at press briefings, and “if somebody gets out of line, I will tell them exactly what I think of their behavior.” Absolutely no one needs to be schooled on their behavior by this deservedly disgraced former cable TV host. Furthermore, what would Sanders need of him anyway? Go have a seat somewhere, Bill. Sarah’s got this.
To our detriment, Sanders is a propaganda tool, not a press secretary. When CNN’s Chalian said she had “lost credibility with the American people, with the reporters in that room,” in truth, of course, she hasn’t. It’s impossible for Sanders to lose something neither she nor this administration has ever had.Renée Graham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @reneeygraham