Every day it becomes increasingly clear that Sarah Huckabee Sanders is less of a press secretary and more of a mouthpiece for the Trump administration's steady stream of propaganda. She defends the president's most indefensible statements — like claiming that he was "joking" when he seemed to encourage police brutality — scolds reporters for doing their job (that would be standing up to the powerful), and keeps briefings short, infrequent, and almost devoid of useful information.
It's no wonder that journalists are growing increasingly frustrated with Sanders, which was obvious when tensions escalated during Thursday's 18-minute press briefing.
"Credibility issues are just getting more obvious and reporters are getting really frustrated with it and it's causing tension," a White House reporter told Politico on Thursday. "It’s sort of coming to a head. The statements are more disprovable, more obvious."
During that briefing, only the third in June, Sanders sparred with reporters, claiming that laws allowing for the separation of parents and children at the border "have been on the books for over a decade." This is not true. There are no laws that require separation. The Trump administration's decision to pursue border-crossing cases as criminal rather than civil, which means parents are put in jail and kids in detention centers — where many have reported physical and sexual abuse — is what's leading to the increased number of children being torn apart from their parents. The administration has also reportedly separated some families seeking asylum, who flee to the U.S. to escape domestic abuse or violence in their countries.
At one point, reporter Brian Karem asked Sanders: "These people have nothing. They come to the border with nothing, and they throw children in cages. You’re a parent, you’re a parent of young children. Don’t you have any empathy for what they go through?" The answer should be simple. But Sanders told Karem to "settle down" and accused him of wanting more TV time.
Reporter Brian Karem repeatedly asks Sarah Sanders about the Trump policy of separating undocumented children from their parents: "Come on, Sarah, you're a parent. Don't you have any empathy?"— David Mack (@davidmackau) June 14, 2018
She says he's trying to get more TV time. pic.twitter.com/NGVPnh1ISv
When asked about Attorney General Jeff Sessions quoting the Bible to defend the administration's policies, Sanders said: "I can say that it is very biblical to enforce the law. That is actually repeated a number of times throughout the Bible."
Not that our government should be citing the Bible when making decisions, but let the record stand that the Bible also says, "When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt." (Leviticus 19:33-34)
Thursday was unfortunately far from the only time Sanders has "smudged" facts. In May, she faced new questions over her credibility after claiming not to know that Trump had reimbursed his attorney Michael Cohen $130,000 for Stormy Daniels' "hush money." A reporter asked her: "Were you lying to us at the time? Or were you in the dark?" Sanders said she gave the best information she had at the time. But even if she were telling the truth, it shows a stunning lack of communication and coordination among Trump's circles.
In February, Sanders stood by former White House senior aide Rob Porter after two of his ex-wives accused him of physically abusing them, providing detailed information to the FBI — calling him "effective in his role" and saying he is of the "highest integrity and exemplary character." Instead of standing by the women, she muddled the details of how the White House handled the allegations and stuck to her scripted statement: "The president supports victims of domestic violence and believes everyone should be treated fairly and with due process." This was not evident throughout the Porter fiasco.
There are more lies: After the October 2017 terrorist attack in New York City, Sanders said that immigrants coming to the U.S. through the diversity visa program are not vetted. They are. At a press briefing in June 2017, she said, "The president in no way, form, or fashion has ever promoted or encouraged violence." He has encouraged his supporters, multiple times, to attack protestors and journalists who are exercising their first amendment rights. It's all on video. And when Trump accused Obama of wiretapping him during the 2016 presidential campaign (false), she offered misleading information about several news outlets having reported the same.
"As a very active President with lots of things happening, it is not possible for my surrogates to stand at podium with perfect accuracy!" Trump tweeted last year.
Except that's their entire job.