White House Comms, seriously how hard can it be? pic.twitter.com/oN9BfvujQP
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) July 27, 2017
— Brian J. Karem (@BrianKarem) July 27, 2017
Life has have gotten a lot less Spicier in the White House briefing room.
Sean Spicer’s resignation came the same day that Trump hired Anthony “Mooch” Scaramucci for Communications Director. And breaking just yesterday, Reince Priebus is out as White House Chief of Staff.
The turmoil in Trump’s cabinet is matched only by discord in the White House briefing room, where tensions have been running high between Trump’s podium barkers and journalists. Take for example Brian Karem’s spontaneous dressing-down of then-assistant press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
“Come on,” he exclaimed. “You’re inflaming everyone right now with those words. [If] any one of us… don’t get it right, [viewers] have the choice to change the channel. You’ve been elected to serve four years at least. We’re here to ask you questions. What you just said was inflammatory. Everybody out here is just trying to do their job.”
“I disagree completely,” she responded.
RELATED: THE SCIENCE OF TRUMP & ‘BLUE LIES’
So, to recap: Huckleberry-Sandbag “disagrees completely” with the role of a free press in America, among other things. Fantastic.
Karem later told Brian Williams on The 11th Hour that he respects both Spicer and Sanders, but that they’re being irresponsible from the podium. Sanders actually recommended people seek out disgraced “ambush filmmaker” James O’Keefe as a source of news.
And so—as someone who is dedicated to a free press and robust investigative reporting—I decided to reach out to Brian via FB Messenger and ask him a few questions about life as a reporter at the White House.
Will Pollock: What’s the overall morale in the WH press pool?
Brian Karem: The morale in the press room is of course problematic. Many are tired of the scandal a day. Many just want to do their job and all of us are frustrated with the methods the administration uses to keep us from information. The press briefings always start late—later and later, usually so those speaking can get out of there quickly.
WP: Have you had any interaction with Scaramucci?
BK: I’ve met Scaramucci—briefly—but have had no meaningful interaction other than during a press briefing. He is outgoing but probably will be less so after the last 48 hours. He is proving to be a divisive force in an already divided White House.
WP: Do you see those letters from kids as time-fillers or something else?
BK: The letters serve to fill time—to show how the president is loved by the public—and it is merely we the press who doesn’t get him. That came across when Scaramucci first met with the media and told us more than a dozen times in five minutes how he loved the president and wanted to get the media on board with how much the rest of America loves him.
Brian’s prediction about the Mooch turned out to be true; after Ryan Lizza’s story about Scaramucci’s expletive-laden rant about leakers, he vowed “never to trust a reporter again.”
I consider myself a “conscientious Facebook objector” since there is much about the social-media giant I find objectionable. The company to this day refuses to acknowledge itself as a news-media organization; aggregation requires a level of editorial curation, not simply fact-checking. But I digress.
Despite my FB criticisms, I’ll often find some benefits in connecting with fascinating people. Nancy Giles, Margaret Cho, Bob Cesca and Scott Bateman. Add to that list: Bruce Bartlett. As Reagan’s national policy adviser and treasurer for Bush I, I’ve admired him ever since frequently guested on Keith Olbermann’s Countdown.
Fact: I learn more from the comment well of his posts than I do from a day of mainstream news.
Bruce recently posted about the state of the GOP and it resonated greatly. After reading the comments I realized how smart his other FB friends are. Some examples (emphasis mine):
• “I was only briefly a fan of Reagan, but I decided all that “government is the problem” rhetoric was bullshit as he proceeded to increase the size of government. Besides, I’m a big fan of clean air and water, and appointing that “Jesus is coming soon so why protect the environment” asshole James Watt as Secretary of the Interior really pissed me off.” via Hal on FB
• “Colin votes Democrat, James Baker and George Schultz are part of the Climate Leadership Council, trying to frame carbon taxes and climate change to gain support from a Republican / conservative / pro-business standpoint. (Schultz was talking with the Democratic experts like Granholm and Steven Chu in the run-up to the election, and was very much in unison, from a green energy standpoint.) They don’t make a point of criticizing Trump, because they are advocates for something necessarily non-partisan. There are conservatives trying to tackle valuable work out there… well outside of the Republican establishment.” via Mark on FB
• “A friend of mine has (to my knowledge) coined the term “decency backlash”. When will there be a palpable Joseph Welch/ Edward R. Murrow turning point. One gets the feeling that the poobahs of the old Republican Party have already drafted their statements calling for Trump’s resignation and are just waiting for what they perceive to be the “right moment” when their attacks on Trump won’t be viewed by as many on the Right as them simply being sore losers.” via Curtis on FB
Bruce’s post is marked as public so I’m not sharing private information here. Just want to demonstrate how a true patriot in the GOP carries himself—and is an attractor of super smart reasonable people.
Bartlett’s new book, “The Truth Matters: A Citizen’s Guide to Separating Facts from Lies and Stopping Fake News in Its Tracks” is coming out in October and can be pre-ordered as an eBook or in paperback.
Maya Rudolph is a national treasure—her years on Saturday Night Live are some of the best ever. On her recent visit to Late Night with Seth Meyers she did a dead-on impersonation of Ivanka Trump. “I’ve got a sexy secret,” she said. “If you wanna get the matching panties they’re $14.95.”
As I’ve reported here before (CY Vol. 23), Maya & Marty was a truly exceptional variety show—and the jury’s still out as to whether or not we’ll be treated to a Season 2. If I had to guess I’d say the odds are very good.
Since I’m a 13-year-old girl at heart, this kind of slickly produced schmaltz is, in a word, awesome. And since MattyB hails from Atlanta he’s gotta be cool, right? The video for his new single, “Gone,” is a fun little story about learning to dance. It’s adorable and you should watch it to cure some of this week’s crankies.
That’s a wrap guys. We’ll see you back here next Thursday at 2 p.m. As always, if you like what you read please consider sharing.
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