Sarah Huckabee Sanders is doing it all wrong. Oh, she's quick enough on her feet, lies sufficiently well and is nasty enough to serve as Donald J. Trump's press secretary. But as long as she's not defending a reasonably honest President- as was the aptly named Josh Earnest- nor effectively parrying with the press as did the late Tony Snow, nor even flashing the occasional "yea, we both know what we're doing here" of Sean Spicer, she should occasionally go full bore deceptive and delusional like her boss.
There is precedent, in Joey Bishop's performance (video below) in "A Guide for the Married Man." from 1967. At her news conference yesterday, Sanders was asked by ABC Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl "Paul Manafort was high-ranking in the President's campaign at one time. I'd like to know what the President's relationship is with him now. Do they still talk? When was the last time they might have had contact?" She replied
As far as we can tell, we know they haven't spoken in several months. The last known conversation was back all the way to February. And as far as anything beyond that, with Paul, I'm not sure of any other contact.
But why acknowledge that the President even knows Paul Manafort? Trump's press secretary could have responded to the question with "Who?" When Karl repeated "Paul Manafort," she might have started to fumble with the last name, as in "Mana, Mana, Manafort?" When the confused reporter followed up, she might have ended the segment with "Manafort- I don't think I know the name."
The press would conclude, justifiably, that Sanders was pleading ignorance on behalf of the man she so loyally serves. That would be the same man who, asked about endorsement of his candidacy by a former KKK grand wizard, responded "Well, just so you understand, I don’t know anything about David Duke. OK? I don’t know anything about what you’re even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists. So, I don’t know." He was elected President of the United States, thus becoming leader of the free world (a role he since has abdicated) less than nine months later.
Deny, deny, deny would be no sillier or less valid than the allegory Sanders led the news conference with. And it might work for Sanders/Trump just as it worked for the character played by Joey Bishop: