During his evening show Thursday, CNN’s Don Lemon played Donald Trump’s own words followed by his press secretary’s “alternative interpretation” of what Trump said.
During the daily press briefing, reporters asked Sanders what Trump means by such statements, and her response was to deny that he said them. Instead, she claimed that Trump said something different and that the press simply misunderstood what he said.
“Are you surprised at the lengths that that Sanders will go to defend the president?” Lemon asked media reporter Brian Stelter. “Because, it’s truly shocking — the tape will show something and she will say, ‘No, that’s not what happened.'”
Stelter recalled Trump’s chief of staff John Kelly, who listened to the phone call between Trump and the wife of Sgt. La David Johnson and claimed that Rep. Frederica Wilson’s (D-FL) account of the call was wrong. The rest of the family backed up Wilson’s story while Trump’s staff worked to clean up the bungled call.
“This is what we mean when we say there’s a credibility crisis at this White House,” Stelter said. “It was clear on day one and two after the inauguration with Sean Spicer, but it is continuing to be true on a daily basis. Sometimes we get numb to it and we forget how often there are these untruths and I am glad you are highlighting with a clip reel like that, that makes it really clear. There are times that Sanders won’t answer questions and then there are times where she can’t answer questions, on basics, like what you just showed. There is no rationale for that.”
White House Politico reporter Annie Karni explained that Sanders is simply following her boss’ lead: never apologize and never back down.
Lemon went on to say that it “does a disservice to Americans and an informed electorate when you are constantly lying at the podium about something that’s right in front of your very eyes. That’s a disservice — even to their own base.”
Washington Post assistant editor David Swerdlick noted that it is expected for a press secretary to “spin things and frame things that are favorable to the president.” He explained, however, it isn’t expected that Sanders “say that Gen. Kelly was taken out of context when we have the entire context.”
Stelter said that their behavior is based on the idea that they feel they’re all under attack on a daily basis. So, they’re trying to come up with something — some other option.
“It is interesting, I think of her perspective, will she be proud of this ten years from now?” Stelter asked. “Because I think all of us sitting here right now, we want to look back and be proud of how we journalists approached this moment in history. I don’t know if White House aides are going to be proud of of how they handled this.”
Lemon asked if he was forced to take his job, as a way of explaining that no person in the White House is forced to take their position. Stelter closed by saying he’s grateful that he doesn’t have to spend his days contorting himself the way Sanders must, because he couldn’t come back the following day.
Watch the conversation below: