Monday, July 24, 2017

Avoiding The Lie

On ABC's This Week, George Stephanopoulos said to newly-minted presidential press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders "I want to ask you the same question Jon Karl asked Sean Spicer on his first day. Do you promise to always try to tell the truth from that podium?" The guest responded

Absolutely. And not just to you, but I think that's our duty. Certainly, I have three young kids. And I want to be able to go home and look my kids in the eye every single day. And that's far more important to me to be able to do that and have that, the highest level of honesty and integrity.
And I want to do that not just in my job but in every single thing I do. And so this is just an extension of me being able to do that. And I'm excited and honored to do it.

A few moments later, Stephanopoulos asked "if it is indeed true, is that OK with the president, that the attorney general was discussing the campaign with the Russian ambassador?" Sanders replied

Again, I'm not going to comment on an alleged illegal leak. I'm not going to get into the back and forth on that. I think if we're going to talk about issues with Russia, and I think that we certainly should, one of the first places we should look is at the $500,000 that Bill Clinton took from Russians when Hillary Clinton was the Secretary of State. If we want to talk about collusion, I think that's one of the first places we should look. They should ask for that money back. And I think that's where this focus should be.

The media loves to talk about it only when it comes to President Trump. And they've been doing it for almost a year. They've come up with nothing when there's real issues I think with some of the activities that the Democrats took place in.

Refusing to be baited into a debate about the Trump administration's obsession with Hillary Clinton, Stephanopoulos shot back with

Sarah, in fact, you know that's not true. You know that for many months, you and the president and his team denied any contact with the Russians. Just in the last couple of weeks, we've seen these contacts revealed. That's why Don Jr. is going to have to appear before the Senate. That's why Jared Kushner is appearing before the Senate this week as well. This is not a made-up story from the press.

After former FBI director Comey testified before the Senate Intelligence Committe about President Trump's conflict with the truth, Sanders asserted “I can definitively say the president is not a liar, and I think it’s frankly insulting it is asked."

Later that month, Trump tweeted incendiary remarks about Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski and a gunman opened fire at the ballfield where some Republicans were practincing for their annual congressional softball game  Major Garrett at a news conference asked Sanders whether she had "any reaction to that sentiment, that conversations like this create an atmosphere that is either dangerous or one we need to avoid?"

The then-assistant press secretary asserted "The president in no way, form or fashion has  ever promoted or encouraged violence. If anything, quite the contrary."

"This is laughable," remarked the Washington Post's Aaron Blake.

But it wasn't laughable. It was impressive.  Blake noted eight instances- from August, 2015 through March, 2016- when Donald J. Trump encouraged violence.  However, there was no "President" Donald Trump then; he did not become President until January 20, 2017.  Although the answer was misleading, it was not inaccurate. "The president" (arguably) has not promoted or encouraged violence.

A better answer would have been "the responsibility for such a criminal act rests with the perpetrator" but, given that SHS works for a fellow who never takes responsibility for anything faulty or unsuccessful, that would have been laughable.

It was similar when she stated "I can definitvely say the president is not a liar." Trump is, of course, a liar's liar, ready to lie at the drop of a hat. But she did not claim "the president is not a liar." She maintained only "I can definitively say..." And she did, in fact, definitively say that. (And give her extra points for invoking righteous indignation with "frankly insulting.")

Unforunately, she told Steph also the media has "come up with nothing," which she knows is contrary to fact. So once in a while, Sarah H. Sanders will lie, just as once in a while, when the planets perfectly align, she'll slip up and tell the truth.

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