President Trump speaks to the media from the Roosevelt Room at the White House on Nov. 1. (Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post)
Media critic

April Ryan has been covering the White House for 21 years, all the way back to the presidency of Bill Clinton. Her titles are White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief for American Urban Radio Networks. She’s also a political analyst for CNN, a job that she secured after pressing White House officials with tough questions about the issues of the day. In the early days of the Trump administration, she asked then-press secretary Sean Spicer about the impact of the Russia issue on President Trump.

When Ryan appeared unimpressed with Spicer’s ridiculous response, the press secretary berated her. When she shook her head, he expressed umbrage. “You’re shaking your head.” And when she asked another question, only to fetch another unsatisfactory answer, she shook her head. “Please stop shaking your head again,” instructed Spicer.

Along with her colleagues in the White House briefing room, Ryan is called upon to cover a proven racist and the policies that spring from his poisoned mind. She proceeds with gusto. “For the last 21 years that I’ve been doing this I’ve asked the same kinds of questions, literally, of Bill Clinton, of George W. Bush, and of Barack Obama, and now this president,” Ryan said in a recent interview promoting her book, “Under Fire: Reporting from the Front Lines of the Trump White House.” “The only question I never asked those presidents that I asked this president was ‘Mr. President, are you a racist?'” That question followed an alleged quip by Trump about immigrants from “shithole countries.”

On Wednesday, Ryan asked the president about voter suppression. “Sit down,” Trump scolded. Ryan explained the situation in a subsequent media appearance: “You know what that question was … it was voter suppression, and … he responded, ‘Yeah, I got voter suppression or something like that,’ and so I stood up. I thought he was receiving my question and wanted to talk about it, and then when he sees me, he says ‘sit down’ you know, in a very terse tone. I was taken aback,” she said.

At a pre-midterm press conference, Ryan placed some important questions before press secretary Sarah Sanders:

Question-asking at the White House is a competitive industry. There are dozens of other reporters seeking to get a minute to have their say. To compound the difficulties, Trump and his emissaries provide non-answers as if there’s a bonus system for doing so. Even within those decorum-inhibiting constraints, Ryan is forever respectful, collegial and insistent, though the White House sometimes has different interpretations.

“Very hostile. Such a hostile media. It’s so sad,” remarked Trump at his Wednesday presser after Ryan pursued her inquiry about voter suppression.

The same sentiments surfaced on Friday morning, as Trump took questions about his treatment of CNN Chief White House Correspondent Jim Acosta, whose pass to the building was yanked after a verbal tussle with Trump. Here’s the riff:

I think Jim Acosta is a very unprofessional man. He does this with everybody. He gets paid to bust in. I don’t think he’s a smart person, but he’s got a loud voice and as far as I’m concerned….When you’re in the White House, this is a very sacred place to be, this is a very special place. You have to treat the White House with respect, you have to treat the presidency with respect. If you’ve ever seen him dealing with Sarah Huckabee Sanders, it’s a disgrace. And he does it for, you know, the reason, the same thing with April Ryan. I watch her get up. I mean, you talk about somebody that’s a loser. She doesn’t know what the hell she’s doing. She gets publicity, and then she gets a pay raise or she gets a contract, I think it’s with CNN. She’s very nasty and she shouldn’t be.

Is that all you got on April Ryan, President Trump? Just some resentment about a black woman getting ahead in the world? There seems to be plenty of such sentiment swirling in Trump’s head. After black CNN reporter Abby Phillip asked Trump about his possible interest in reining in the special counsel investigation, he replied, “What a stupid question. But I watch you a lot. You ask a lot of stupid questions.” And don’t forget how the president, also on Wednesday, treated Yamiche Alcindor, a black journalist with PBS NewsHour: She asked about the racial implications of adopting a “nationalist” stance. “That’s such a racist question,” he said. “I love our country … We have nationalists and globalists. … I’m very offended by that question.”

CNN’s Brian Stelter said in a segment Friday morning, “The president has a problem here. I know that his supporters like to say he’s an equal opportunity insulter, he’s an equal opportunity offender, but that’s not the case. He has a problem with women, and he has a problem with people of color.”

Also on Friday, Ryan said on CNN that previous presidents appreciate the media’s role in accountability. “This president seems not to like it and therefore I’m a loser. I’m okay with that,” she said.

A coda: Trump also said that there “could be others” besides Acosta who will have their White House credentials revoked.

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